Let’s start with the positives. The Hinckley scrum was dominant throughout the match. Alex Tansley had an excellent game, scoring the Hornets only try and carrying with aggression and purpose throughout the game. Will Cave also performed well at full-back before he had to leave the field with a hamstring injury.
That was it! The rest was carnage! Students, who themselves were convincingly beaten by Stourbridge in their opening fixture, were faster, more creative and seemingly more committed. They made far fewer mistakes and executed their set piece drills expertly.
Hornets on the other hand over-elaborated throughout, were continually driven back when in possession and instead of keeping it tight against a team whose traditional weakness is in their lack of bulk, tried to defeat what will probably be one of the fastest and fittest back divisions in the division out wide. The lineout was a repeat of last weeks horror show although there was some improvement in the second half with the introduction of Dale Bowyer and the use of the short throw but make no mistake, this was a rout!
Director of Rugby Scott Hamilton couldn’t hide his disappointment after the game. ‘We thought we had a clear game plan going into the game but a few mistakes led to a few more and before we knew it very little was going right. We need to look at our game and focus on getting the basics right. I’m expecting some tough conversations with the players this week and I’ll be reminding them of our expectations. That said, we still have 28 games to go. We are all in this together and collectively we need to work hard to address the issues. We are at home next week and I am expecting a reaction.’
It didn’t go well for Hornets from the start. It took only two minutes for Students to register their first try. Wingman Bam Fadahunsi took the ball in his own half and made 40m before being pulled down by Cave on the 22m. The ball was recycled and worked over the line by the Loughborough pack. Owen Waters converted.
Cave was in action again a couple of minutes later when an attempted chip by Joe Glover was collected by Students on halfway and only Cave’s intervention stopped a further try. Hornets, though, were penalised at the breakdown and Waters converted from 20m to take the score to 10-0.
Hornets did respond initiating perhaps their best period in the game. A crunching tackle by Mitch Lamb on his opposite number in the Loughborough 22m forced the knock-on to set up an attacking scrum. Students were penalised 3 times for collapsing the scrum, prompting a severe lecture from the referee, but when Hornets did release the ball to the backs the ball was lost forward allowing Students to clear their lines.
Two further penalties to Hinckley, one again for a scrum offence which led to a card for the Students replacement prop, set up attacking line-outs in the Students 22m. Both, however, were lost, the first overthrown, the second not straight.
That seemed to turn the game, Hinckley looked disheartened, Students buoyed. Glover was carded for a deliberate knock-on just outside the Hinckley 22m, Students kicked to within 10m, and the pack duly delivered the try with Waters converting.
With half-time approaching, Students set up another line-out just inside the Hinckley 22m, claimed the ball and a series of pick and drives eventually saw centre Josh Lewis force his way. Waters again added the extras.
There was still time though for Hornets to set up their own attacking line-out in the Students 22m following a penalty for holding on, but, although the line-out ball was won, Hornets could not force the score. Half-time came with the score at 24-0.
Any glimmer of hope that the travelling support might have nurtured over the interval was blown away within 2 minutes of the restart. A penalty for yet another deliberate knock-on was kicked to 10m by Waters and the pack again delivered with a fine catch and drive. Waters again converted and at 31-0, Students were out of sight. A similar attempt a few minutes later was only thwarted when Students knocked on.
A high tackle on half-way gave Waters another chance of a repeat after 14 minutes but a spectacular effort by Joe Wilson kept the ball in play and Hornets were able to launch Alex Tansley who carried 50m into the Students 22m. He was tackled but Students scrum half Alex Glashan was binned for an offence at the breakdown and a kick to touch set up the scoring opportunity. The line-out was won but the drive was held. Hinckley did though get the scrum and Tansley was able to pick up from the back and drive over to register Hornets first and only score. Wilson converted.
But any lift the Hornets may have derived from the score was killed when, from the restart, Hinckley were penalised allowing Students to set up another line-out in the corner and the pack duly delivered again.
The final score came on 70 minutes. Hinckley had won a penalty for ‘truck and trailer’ from a line-out deep in their 22m and Wilson kicked to halfway. Yet another line-out, however, was lost, Students fed the ball out wide and full-back Will Kaye was able to run in from 30m. Waters missed the conversion and there was no further score before the referee mercifully blew for time.
Next week Hornets face newly promoted Luctonians at Leicester Road. After a victory away to Tynedale, Luctonians lost at home to Stourbridge on Saturday. Hinckley will be desperate to register their first point of the season and kick-start the rest of their campaign.