Thursday, 20 June 2019

Friday's Coming: Sheffield


PLASTIC FANTASTIC? Sheffield's Olympic Legacy Stadium
In what can only be a sick practical joke, Hornets travel to Sheffield - on Friday evening. If negotiating the M62/M1 on a Friday teatime wasn't a big enough pain in the arse, a tailspinning Hornets face an Eagles side fresh from a proper thumping of Batley at Mount Pleasant. Leading by 18-12 at the break (having led 18-nil after half a hour) Sheffield piled in with six second-half tries down the hill to win 54-24 - stand-off Pat Walker kicking nine from nine attempts on the way.

Post-match, Eagles boss Mark Aston was modest about the win, saying: "We were too good for them". And if you wanted a real kick in the guts, Pat Moran scored two tries.

As always, Sheffield have flown under the radar a bit this season. Indeed, if we didn't have to think about them twice a season, they'd barely register a blip on ours. Sitting sixth with 10 wins from 17 they look hard to beat - but a closer look reveals them to be a bit leaky: they have the highest points against in the top 7.

After ending a three match losing streak, Aston said this week that he could "see the confidence come oozing back" into his side.

If only the same could be said for Hornets. Sunday's 60-nil defeat to a workmanlike, well-organised York marked a new low-point in this difficult season. Remodelling the squad mid-season was always likely to prove challenging: blending a new influx of players into an existing squad or imposing a new coaching regime would be tough enough individually, but together it's proving a difficult combination to crack.

In search of that elusive combination, we hear today that Swinton have signed Scott Moore in a straight swap for former Wigan prop Kyle Shelford. As Scott Moore's (former) sponsor, we remain ambivalent on that. One benefit being that Ben Moores will get more game time and we're always a better side with him on the field.

What was previously frustration that the squad was performing below its potential has, the last couple of weeks, become resignation that damage limitation is a more realistic expectation. Last year we nicked a last day win on Sheffield's tacky-placky kick-pitch. This time - with their faith stretched thin - all fans are craving is an improved performance. To go to Sheffield and lose with dignity would be enough, we think.

See you there.


Sunday, 16 June 2019

An Ode to Nothing


York 60 - Hornets 0

Zero, zilch, de nada.
Nought, nowt, a blank, a duck.
This trip to York proved pointless
As the Knights just ran amok.

All optimism faded
Fans put through the mill
As at the end the scoreboard read
York sixty Hornets nil.

Not so much a contest
More a hard-to-watch procession,
As Hornets shipped eleven tries
Two weeks in succession.

Ten minutes, nothing in it
The City Knights contained,
We never thought we'd win it
But nil-nil it remained.

But two dropped balls proved fatal
(One last tackle, one the first)
And when Salter ran through Williams
You kind of feared the worst.

The next time York came down the field
We thought their chance had gone
But Mr Moore gave Marsh the score
And not the clear knock-on.

Hornets got two penalties
Infringements back to back
Which brought an opportunity,
A platform to attack, but

They couldn't make a breakthrough
As Oscar Thomas let
himself get tackled in possession
On the last play of the set.

York's response, a huge break
Up the left edge, three on one.
Marsh in for his second,
The game had all but gone.

Confirmed two minutes later
A cheap penalty; quick hands
Whiteley scoring by the flag and
Bedlam in the stands.

An awful half brought to a close
With defence of some concern.
Stock slumping in to score
Off an 80 metre kick-return.

Half-time twenty six nil.
Hornets in reverse.
But what had gone so badly
Was to get a whole lot worse.

On forty two a walk-in try
That made the home fans laugh
After Hornets went and knocked-on
In the first set of the half.

Then Hornets put the kick-off dead
An error - pretty poor
The fans shook their collective head
And braced themselves for more.

On fifty Callum Marriot teased
So close, held-up in-goal.
Hornets kicked high for the corner
But Whiteley saw the hole

Out-jumping Shaun Ainscough
He fed the ball to Vaivai
Who hit the afterburners
As Hornets waved him bye-bye.

Then Teanby on the hour -
A walk in by the posts -
Cue the heavy shower
And Hornets chasing ghosts.

Five minutes later Vaivai
Sent in Whiteley from a scrum, before
A huge break up the guts saw Scott
Add four more to the sum

Then a carbon copy scrum-move
With Vaivai feeding Whiteley
For the easiest of hat-tricks -
And we don't say that lightly.

In the end, this was a shocker
A battering. A rout.
Two weeks and twenty two tries shipped.
All confidence blown-out.

And the Hornets fans left shellshocked
This was a bitter pill,
As at the end the scoreboard read
York sixty Hornets nil.