Monday, 5 May 2014

Hornets give Swinton the Blues

Hornets 31 Swinton 16

The Championship's second biggest crowd of the day was treated to an archetypal game of two halves - a full-blooded derby described before the game by both captains as a 'must win'.  And on Wayne English's 100th game in Hornets colours he and his his team-mates produced a whirlwind first half that effectively sealed the win.

Hornets went off like a house on fire. A huge 4th minute 40/20 from Paul Crook and Mike Ratu crashing in close to the line, only for Ratu to suffer an injury that saw him carried from the field.

It necessitated a shuffle of the threequarters to accommodate Lewis Sheridan and it took a further ten minutes before Hornets regained their rhythm. Hornets hit the front when a teasing Paul Crook lob into the corner was touched down by the flag by Sheridan.

And just two minutes later, Anthony Walker smuggled a pass out of the back of a three-man tackle to find Sean Casey arriving like lightning to gather and dash under the black dot. Crook with the conversion for 10-0.

Hornets now had all the momentum and when Swinton conceded a penalty in possession on 24 minutes for pushing Tony Suffolk over, it was really only going to end one way. Indeed, a repeat set and Jordan Case lunged in from acting half after Paul Crook had dummied his way through four tackles. Crooky with the extras for 16-nil.

On the half hour a teasing kick towards the corner from Crooky saw the Swinton winger make a complete hash of it: Ormsby - distracted by the flying Gaz Langley - lost the flight of the ball and Danny Davies was on hand to gather and score. Crooky coolly slotted over the two.

Swinton ended the half with three repeat sets, but no matter how hard they pushed and probed, Hornets fantastic defence gave them nothing and they went to the break a dominant 22-nil up.

The second half with both teams seemingly having had a persona transplant. Hornets now hesitant and backing off in the tackle: Swinton more expansive and playing at a much higher tempo.

It took just five minutes for the Lions to catch the Hornets defence napping: A Hawkyard break and quick-hands wide where Worthington scored in the corner. Then, on 50 minutes, the other Hawkyard came crashing through after a scrappy approach set and Peet added the two to take Swinton within reach of the bonus point at 22-10.

There looked to be some respite two miutes later when Swinton conceded a penalty for not playing the ball correctly. Crooky missed what loked like a simple kick and the idiot on the music erroneously hit the 'goal' button.

Just after the hour Swinton continued their comeback. Another messy approach and this time Bowman scoring out wide. Watson adding the 500th point of his Lions career and Swinton within touching distance at 22-16.

But Watson went from hero to villain almost immediately, dropping the kick-off and effectively handing Hornets the momentum. They took immediate advantage, Ryan Millard hoisting a kick to the flank; Swinton defenders flailing and flapping; Gaz Langley quickest to react, gathering the loose ball and stepping inside the full-back to score. Crooky added the two - and at 28-16 Hornets had nine minutes to deny Swinton the bonus point.

The opportunity came four minutes later: good approach play from the Hornets pack and Paul Crook with enough space to land the drop goal to stretch Hornets lead to 13 points.

With the clock tickng down Swinton concded another penalty in possession for leading with the elbow. Crooky added the two from bang in front.

The game ended with a fracas as Paul Crook was caught high with a swinging arm, but he got up off the floor to punt the ball dead and secure the victory that takes Hornets to 9th in the league table - just one point behind Keighley in 7th and one win fewer than Sheffield in fifth!

Ultimately, teams that will stay up in this competition will have to find both a way to win and a way to deny their opponents the bonus point. Both objectives were achieved here - and with Workington at Spotland next week having grabbed four bonus points, a repeat would be very welcome.