And so it began. Hinckley U16s kicked off their final season of mini and junior rugby with a comfortable 43-22 win against their old nemesis, Leicester Forest. Many of these lads have been playing together for 10 year and, following a summer of seemingly more growth spurts, facial hair sprouting and even deeper grunting, they huddled together looking like a fine band of young men.
Hinckley kicked off on the stadium pitch, applying early pressure through strong runs by Golding, Hutton, Underwood, L. Whittingham and Moore. Forest turned over the ball and retaliated, but thumping tackles by Moore, Buckler, A. Whittingham, Hutton, Goodwin, Toon, Golding and Barnes prevented any real threat. Hinckley’s first of seven tries came as Golding capitalised on a spilled ball just inside the halfway line and out-sprinted the flailing Forest defenders to score under the posts. Moore added the extras to give Hinckley a 7-0 lead.
Hinckley maintained their attacking intent as the game re-commenced, breaks by Barnes, Burton, Underwood, Moore and Jacques taking Hinckley to within 5m of Forest’s line. The forwards secured the ball which was fizzed out to L. Whittingham on the crash to score Hinckley’s second try. Moore’s conversion sailed over to extend the black and ambers’ lead to 14-0.
Forest launched their first meaningful attack following the re-start, taking advantage of some complacent Hinckley defence to score their first try from a grubber kick through, reducing the deficit to 14-5.
The home side’s discipline then took a turn for the worse, losing a player to the sin-bin and giving away two kickable penatlies which Forest converted, taking the score to a nervous 14-11.
Hinckley managed to relieve some of the tension just before the end of the first 35 minute half. Breaks by Allen, Moore, Jacques and Burton took them deep into Forest’s 22. The forwards took Hinckley up to the line with some superb pick and drives, before Wainde found Moore who sniped through to score. Allen’s conversion increased Hinckley’s half-time advantage to 21-11.
The second period started as the first had ended, Hinckley giving away a penalty in front of their own posts which Forest obviously kicked, taking the score to 21-14.
Hinckley responded, stealing the ball in a tackle and charging forward through strong carries by Drakeford, Hutton and Duggins. Hinckley maintained possession, allowing Moore to carve through for a brilliant second try, increasing their lead to 26-14.
Forest remained resilient earning another kickable penalty which split the uprights to keep them in touch at 26-17.
Hinckley re-grouped and started to find their form, spurred on by the loyal home supporters who also looked like they’d gained a couple of inches over the summer break. Giles superbly gathered a long Forest kick-though and carried the ball back into opposition territory. Breaks by A. Whittingham, Smith, Barnes and Drakeford took Hinckley to within inches of the try line, before Allen’s well-timed pass found Jacques on the charge who thundered over for try number five. Drakeford’s fantastically struck conversion sailed over to take the score to 33-17 and this soon became 38-17 as Drakeford barrelled over for Hinckley’s sixth try, following powerful runs by A. Whittingham, Barnes and Jacques.
Hinckley then gifted Forest with their second try following a lapse in concentration in defence, the score now 33-22. Forest remained defiant and launched a series of attacks as the game entered the final ten minutes, but they couldn’t break through Hinckley’s resistance, as Mensforth-Grove, Jacques, Golding, McManus, Smith, Miller and A. Whittingham put in solid tackles.
Hinckley’s superior fitness, paid off, as they scored their seventh try in the last phase of the match. Breaks by Jacques, Barnes, Mensforth-Grove, Dewfield and Golding took Hinckley into Forest territory. Hinckley maintained possession, Burton emerging with the ball to bullock his way through for a superb score, increasing the black and ambers’ lead to 43-22.
Forest had a final flurry following the re-start but Jacques bundled an unfortunate Forest player into the stand to end the game, final score Hinckley 43-22 Forest.