Monday, 11 August 2014

No-ah Miracle for Hornets

And so it came to pass that in the land of the Dews, a biblical deluge did fall from the heavens to wash away the Hornets disciples' hope of a miracle that never came.

Despite leading twice in a quite literal end-to-end game - and matching a big, mobile Rams side for long periods - honest graft wasn't enough to sustain the challenge and, ultimately, a third-quarter momentum shift was enough to tip the game Dewsbury's way.

The early exchanges were pretty even. A 3rd minute, last tackle burst from Gaz Langley went close, countered by some direct running from Pryce.

With nothing twixt the teams, it took a huge 13th minute break from Sean Casey to unzip the game. With Dewsbury's defence scrambling, a last tackle dink from Lewis Sheridan caused just enough chaos for Stuart Littler to dive in and score. Crooky the two and Hornets comfortable at 0-6.

Almost immediately Hornets were back on the front-foot. A steepling bomb from Crooky, Stu Littler challenging - but deemed offside, the home side off the hook.

On the quarter it was Sean Casey again tearing a huge 60 metre rift through the heart of the Rams defence, but in his eagerness to sustain momentum, with no support within touching distance he played the ball back to no-one and Dewsbury - again - exhaled.

On 22 minutes a moment of bizarre officials-fail spared Casey further blushes as he fumbled a Rams 40/20 into touch. Somehow Hornets were given the feed at the scrum and the locals went into 'cheat'-chanting overdrive. 

In a microcosm of the season, Hornets dropped the ball first tackle, then conceded a penalty, then conceded a shoddy try as Gallagher trundled in from 10 feet. Hemmingway the two 6-all.

Dewsbury capitalised as a shell-shocked Hornets tried to snap back into shape: a Gallagher ball putting suppoerting runners into acres of space, but with a three-on-one on Wayne English they somehow contrived to put the last pass to ground with the line begging.

On the half hour it was Gallagher again, this time the fulcrum in a neat interchange of passes that sent Hyde in under the black dot untouched. Hyde did the honours and Dewsbury ahead 12-6.

Hornets sucked in and took the game back to Dewsbury, with some determined defence. But when referee Mr Woodhead mistakenly gave a penalty for ripping the ball after Dewsbury had dropped it cold in the tackle, the home side were swept upfield where Thackeray stepped through a despondent defence to score a soft try. Hyde the extras; 18-6.

However, Hornets weren't done quite yet. Some solid approach play from the hard-working pack took them close to the Rams line, and when James Tilley hit a short-ball at pace to plant the ball undet the posts, Mr Woodhead was the only man in the ground to have seen a forward pass. No try.

With the half ebbing away Hornets launched one last attack and, with the hooter already sounded, moved the ball via Alex McClurg to Chris Baines who skated through to score. Crooky hit the target and Hornets went to the sheds back in the game at 18-12.

Hornets began the second half in determined mood. Immediately on the attack, this time the Rugby League gods worked in Hornets' favour. A bouncing ball skipped through a tangle of hands; Dewsbury stopped waiting for the knock-on; Gaz Langley the only player to play to the whistle and scooted in to touch down. Try given. The locals in uproar as Crooky banged over the two. 18-all.

The locals' ire was compounded when the Rams hoofed the kick-off dead. Cool as you like, Crooky stroked home the penalty from half way to nudge Hornets in front 18-20.

The lead came withing a whisker of being stretched less than a minute later when Gaz Langley looked to have perfectly poached an interception, but the ball bounched tantalisingly off his fingertips. And there was uproar in the Hornets ranks on 50 minutes when Paul Crook was hit late and high whilst dispatching an attempted 40/20. After much debate Mr Woodhead grudgingly put the incident on report.

Having struggled to get on top of the game, Dewsbury raised the tempo. A 52nd  minute chip to the corner saw Buchanan use his height advantage to out-jump Sean Casey and score by the flag. Then - gifted possession and field position courtesy of a dropped ball and yet another penalty for ripping - some indecisive defence in the left channel allowed Sam Wood through to score. With the hour ticking up, Hornets suddenly 28-20 down.

But Hornets kept plugging away. A pair of repeat sets pinned Dewsbury in their own half, but the last-tackle kick was returned 60 metres by Hyde; augmented by yet another daft penalty. This time, the defence holding out.

With Hornets now mounting a rear-guard action, Stuart Littler produced a moment of defensive magic, dragging his opposite number Gorden Tallis-style by the collar into touch as the home fans went nuts. Hilarious.

It was a temporary respite. On 69 minutes John Cookson was carried from the field as Dewsbury turned the screw with a series of repeat sets. Despite clinging on bravely the pressure finally told as Buchannan spun through tired tackles to score out wide; 32-20.

With Hornets now out on their feet, mobile lamp-post Pryce finally lived up to his sizeable threat sliding in with just a hint of a double movement to deny Hornets the bonus point. Hemingway the two 38-20. And the heavens opened

With a storm of biblical proportions now lashing the Tetley Stadium, Wayne English produced a spectacular one-on-one try saving tackle: the game - and any thoughts of a Hornets' Championship miracle -  brought to an end amidst tumultuous thunder and lighting.

Cruelly, with the bottom four all losing  - and despite Hornets having the most wins and fewest defeats amongst that group - bonus points for Swinton and Crusaders saw Hornets slide to 13th in the table. But with four games to play and 12 points on offer, the target of finishing at least third bottom is still attainable. In any other year that would've secured our place in the Championship. Indeed, finishing 12th or above would mean we were only relegated by the restructure and not on the field of play.