Monday, 1 July 2019

The Pleasure Principle

Hornets 28 - Swinton 36

Abraham Lincoln said 'You can't please all of the people all of the time.' What he didn't make clear was that you can't please some people any of the time - no matter how hard you try.

Indeed, the lead-up to this local derby was trying on pretty much every front, starting when the Dale casually let slip last week that their pitch remediation - the whole reason we've been playing away from 'home' for the last six weeks - is running later than the Titanic.

Cue the chaos of trying to find an alternative venue at a cost that wouldn't cripple the club.

Accepting the opportunity to play at Rochdale Mayfield (keeping the game in the Borough) thus sparked a social media skrike-fest from the club that's hauled their long-suffering fans round a dozen grounds outside their borough since the Lions left Station Road. So much for empathy within the Rugby League's dysfunctional family.

As it was, the 550 or so at the Mayfield Sports Centre were treated to a combative, pulsating game that hung in the balance until the last minute. Hornets succumbing to a late error that gifted the visitors the try that exaggerated the scoreline.

Having had the best of the early exchanges, Hornets got an early fillip when Lions' wing Butt was yellow-carded for a trip. Hornets then worked the numbers up that channel where James Worthington slipped Shaun Ainscough in to score. Hornets extended their lead just four minutes later when Adam Lawton took advantage of a retreating defence to wrestle through defenders and plonk the ball by the post. Dan Abram the extras and Hornets looking comfortable at 10-nil.

But narcolepsy struck on the half-hour; Hornets switching off to allow Moore, Wells and Ashton to register a ten-minute treble that gave the visitors a 10-14 lead against the run of play.

The hangover continued after the break. Hornets with the first attack, a high kick to the corner returned 80 metres by Lepori who found Ashton in support to score after barely a minute. Hansen the two: 10-20.

The introduction of Hornets' new French half Pierre Bourrel paid instant dividends, mesmerising flat-footed defenders to weave through and score with pretty much his first touch, sparking a last quarter in which the game ebbed and flowed.

On the hour, Butt found space to score out-wide to restore the visitors' superiority, but the sin-binning of Moore for a brutal head-shot on Burrel left Swinton short in the middle of the park and the Frenchman got off the floor to produce another mercurial stepping effort on 64 minutes to put Hornets back in the hunt at 22-24. Game most definitely on with 10 to play.

Another momentary lapse in concentration allowed Hansen to slip through and score (converting his own try), but Hornets hit straight back, moving the ball to the left edge where Brandon Wood finished in style. Dan Abram the two off the whitewash. 28-30 with three minutes to play.

Hornets sought to drive the ball out of yardage, but - with Swinton hands all over the ball - Dan Abram was deemed to have knocked on. And as the hooter sounded, Swinton shipped the ball wide to Butt who sealed the game for the Lions.

Whilst this was a pugnacious, whole-hearted derby in the old-skool tradition, it was another game that slipped from Hornets' grasp; the game turning on a handful of tiny percentage errors.

As it was, Hornets fans left with mixed emotions. Gutted that their side had lost this one, but pleased with the obvious improvement in performance. Needless to say, Swinton's noisy following celebrated like it was 1969 - and, strangely, the surroundings didn't seem to matter much any more.

Seems that pleasing some of the people some of the time is the best we can hope for.