Monday, 19 March 2012

Oh We Don't Like to be Beside the Seaside...

Whitehaven 30 Hornets 10

Murphy's Law
n: Informal:  a precept stating that if something can go wrong or turn out inconveniently it will. See also Sod's Law.

Fittingly for St Patrick's weekend, this game was an object lesson of Murphy's Law at work. Notwithstanding poor discipline from Hornets that gave the penalty count a decidedly lop-sided look and gifted a steady but unspectacular Haven 13 penalties to six; or a completion rate bumping along in the low 40 percents, it was an afternoon where everything that could go wrong did.

Haven had done their homework, singling out Paul Crook for some decidedly agricultural treatment in the early stages. Hit late twice after 5th tackle kicks, Crooky was led from the field after 15 just minutes with a serious looking shoulder injury; Referee Merrick bottled it, putting Beattie on report. Hornets lost their shape and it was hardly surprising when Haven opened the scoring after 20 minutes when Bauer was quickest to react to a bobbling kick into the Hornets in-goal.

But Hornets dug in. Struggling to find any fluidity, the ball was eventualy worked downfield for Gary Middlehurst to hit a flat pass at speed from close range. Baines took over kicking duties to level the scores at 6-all.

With haf-time approaching and Hornets still hanging onto the game, Haven capped off some sustained pressure, working the ball wide for Calvert to score by the corner flag. Half time 12-6 to the home side.

The second half began in a scrambling frenzy. Haven fumbling the kick-off, Hornets building pressure on the back of repeat sets, but unable to find the killer pass. 

Hornets were handed the advantage when the home fullback Bauer talked himself into the sin-bin, but a string of needless penalties marched Haven downfield where, with a man short, they worked an overlap for Calvert to score out wide. 18-6 and - after just 56 minutes - dark mutterings about the dreaded bonus point.

Having struggled to find any cohesive football for an hour, Hornets sparked to life. A bristling 50 metre break upfield by Steve Roper took Hornets close to the Haven line and quick hands exploited a retreating home defence for Dale Bloomfield to bag the try of the game. And at 18-10 with almost 20 minutes to play the game was afoot.

With both sides struggling to open up the game, it was nip and tuck until the 70th minute. Despite being seemingly incapable of completing a set, Hornets defended staunchly until Stephen Bannister staggered from the field following a heavy tackle in traffic. Having used all of their substitutions, Hornets shuffled their 12 men, but Haven worked the numbers to grab two late tries from McCavoy (both through Bannister's vacated centre channel) for a final score of 30-10.

There's little doubt that losing Pauk Crook early on played havoc with Hornets' organisation - it is tough to stick to the structure with such an influential component missing. But, despite being their own worst enemy at times, Hornets were in the game way past the hour mark, which is testimony to their work ethic (and an indication of how short on ideas Haven really were).

In the end injuries, daft penalties,  unforced errors and conceding soft possession proved to be a combination of factors too great to overcome by merely working hard. Haven are a solid outfit and any capable side should be able to create opportunities from the amount of ball and easy yards they were given. And, when faced with a numerical advantage, they did.

In the end, this was one to write off, the biggest take-out being Stanky's desperate need to get all bodies back up and firing as quickly as possible - espcially the influential Crook.