Sunday, 6 July 2014

Tour de Force

Hornets 38 Featherstone 34

After a weekend of extreme Yorkshire hubris and about as much 'God's Own County' bullshit as your average Lancastrian can possibly take, it was doubly enjoyable to see a pumped-up Hornets hand Featherstone a lesson in redoubtable team spirit.

This was a transformed Hornets - unrecogniseable from the side of the last few weeks, revelling in the wide open space of a lush Spotland pitch that resembled a bowling green.

And Hornets leapt from the blocks to stun Featherstone with three finely crafted quick-fire tries. After just four minutes a break Ryan Millard sent Stuart Littler close and, with the Fev defence scrambling to re-shape, Paul Crook was launched off a short ball to score. Crooky good with the two for 6-nil.

It was roles reversed after 12 minutes, this time Stuart Littler in off a tidy pass after Paul Crook had gone close. Crooky with the two and the visitors reeling at 12-nil.

On 15 minutes Hornets produced quite possibly the try of the season: Ryan MiIlard's delicate chip gathered by Lewis Sheridan, Millard going for the return to score - a dismantled Rovers defence chasing shadows. Crooky the extras and, at 18-nil, the sizeable Yorkshire following reduced to subdued grumbling.

But Fev are no mugs and they played their way back into the game with two tries in three minutes: first winger Crookes in at the corner off a wide cut-out pass, then a great show & go by Moore to send kain scuttling in under the black dot from 40 metres. Moore good with the boot to pull Rovers back within striking distance at 18-12.

The game entered a bit of a scrappy period, both sides shipping penalties, but unable to capitalise. On the half-hour, camped on the Hornets line, the pressure finaly told when king-sized lump Crossley went barelling in from 2 feet of a short crash-ball. Moore the two and the game locked up at 18-all.

But Hornets kept coming, the forwards piling into the Fev defence, new half-back pair Millard and Sheridan teasing and probing. Tempers frayed on the half-hour following some 'afters' off a Rovers bomb. Referee Bloem doled out a lecture. First drive someone digged Stuart Littler in the tackle and Hornets were taken upfield by the resulting penalty. 

With time ticking away, a twisting, jinking run my Ryan Millard took him within inches, the hooter coming just in time for the visitors. Half time 18-all - and you'd be hard pushed to say which of the two sides on show had had 'hundreds of thousands of pounds pumped in' by a shyster.

Hornets began the second half at lightning pace. Rovers immediately in retreat as another wiry break from Ryan Millard turned defenders inside out to create space for Sean Casey to take a peach of a pass and out-muscle his opposite number to stretch-out and score. With Crooky taking a breather, it was Casey with the kick - inches wide. 22-18.

Clearly in confident mood, Hornets went straight back on the attack. A sweeping move across field found Wayne English as the extra man; he launched Alex Trumper linewards and his last-second pass slotted Matt Dawson in by the flag. Casey again just wide, but Hornets in command at 26-18.

For 10 minutes Fev sucked Hornets back into the arm-wrestle and, on 55 mins a last-tackle bomb into an empty in-goal found Sharp who touched down: 26-22.

No matter, Hornets pushed Featherstone back under their own posts and, when Sean Casey trickled a teasing kick behind their defence, James Dandy was first to react and touch down. Casey the two for 32-22

Rovers then had their best spell of the game. On 64 minutes Uaisele finally showed-up to pounce on a dropped last-tackle bomb to score, then Hardman was fed in after some sustained pressure. Out of nowhere, Fev found themselves 32-34 in front: the visiting supporters now roused from their slumbers.

But, cometh the hour, cometh the man - and the man on this occasion was Woz Thompson - crashing onto a 76th minute pass from five metres to bully his way over for a try that brought the house down. Crooky the two for 38-34. Fev a busted flush and Hornets celebrating a quite incredible victory.

Having seen both squad and confidence chipped away over the wretched six-week hiatus that kills us every year, it was inspiring to see the players in which we place our faith galvanised and energised on the return to home ground. 

Let's face it, if anone had offered five wins plus Featherstone's scalp at the start of the season, we'd've jumped at it. Here's hoping it's the catalyst for a big run to the finish line.