Hornets 60 - Thatto Heath 14
Phew: writing pre-season blogs mirrors the process of playing pre-season trial games. You don't really have your eye in, lots of things get in your way and by the time you've worked out what's working, the season is upon you and you just have to go with your best shot.
Equally, Sunday's hit-out against Thatto Heath proved a trial in pretty much every aspect. With the office printer and Spotland's tannoy system choosing to go tits-up (one ceasing working, the other buzzing like a jar of angry bees whenever we plugged pretty much anything into anything else), it was a bit of a kick, bollock and scramble that just about got us to making announcements - even if it remains impossible for six grown people to identify a try-scorer from 100 metres way.
Despite the tribulations (and the buzzing), it was Thatto Heath that started brightest: a teasing kick from Stott snaffled by Leicester to open the scoring. Hornets stood under their crossbar after just three minutes. You could have heard a pin-drop - if it weren't for the buzzing.
Hornets did find a bit of rhythm after 7 minutes, keeping the ball alive to send Lee Paterson in by the flag. Not long after more tidy handling up the same channel threaded Dale Bloomfield into much the same spot. This time Gaz Langley good with the boot for 10-4.
On the quarter, a nifty break by Matt Hadden and Woz Thompson unzipped the Thatto Heath defence, only to be pulled back for a forward pass. No matter: one minute later Dean Mignacca picked out Danny Yates, Yates found Danny Bridge arriving at pace and he crashed through to score. Gaz with the goal 16-4 and the small crowd… er… buzzing.
A parade of rolling substitutions and positional changes don't always make for fluidity and, while Hornets stuttered a bit in the second quarter, Thatto Heath kept plugging away - and when Gaz Langley shipped a daft penalty for a ball steal on 33 minutes, a lofted kick from Stott saw Walsh leap, gather and score in Gaz's corner. Karma, man…
16-8 at half time: Thatto Heath looking steady, Hornets playing well under par.
The second half was a completely different kettle of… er… buzzing fish- with Hornets playing with more pace, puropse and focus.
After just two minutes, James Dandy showed impressive pace to burn through off a Danny Yates ball (Gaz the two), then quick hands from Dean Mignacca to Wayne English who fired a looping pass for Dale Bloomfield to score (gaz off the touchline), then a mercurial show & go from Wayno who cruised through a huge hole to score. 32-8.
As the hour approached two of this season's Dannies conbined again: Yates to Bridge, nice and simple from close range, followed three minutes later by James Dandy's dummying thirty metre run after some slick passingin the halves. Gaz good with the boot 42-8.
It was Gaz Langley who struck again on 68 minutes: a good winger's finish after a sumptuous Wayne English break, converting his own effort for 48-8.
Two minutes later, Thatto Heath got their reward for sticking to their gameplan - Wakefield dummying in from close range, Quinn converting: 48-14.
Hornets' response was immediate, this time it was John Cookson popping up in the right hand channel to score, though the whole of the press box swore it was Danny Davis, who was actually sat in the dugout at the time. Thankfully, you could barely hear the erroneous announcement for the buzzing…
Hornets brough proceedings to a close on the 77th minute when a huge Ryan Smith/Jordan Case break ended with Wayne English grabbing his second in style.
Final Score 60-14.
So what have we learned? Firstly, that the gap between RL League 1 and the Conference Premier Division is somewhere in the region of 40 points. Secondly, that when Hornets new half-back combination clicks, it gives willing runners lots of options. Thirdly, that Dean Mignacca gives us a good combination of industrious poise with a drop of mongrel. Fourth, that Ste Marsh scares the crap out of us with his new 'Colonel Kurtz' haircut.
But mostly, that - while still a bit ring-rusty - a lot of the guys in the squad look like they'll be giving Tol a bit of a selection headache come April.
And that's really got us buzzing.