Monday, 4 May 2015

Hornets Win a Bear Necessity

Bears 10 - Hornets 35

There are free-flowing wins, powerful wins and those tight, ugly wins that you have to grind-out. This was a game that required a cool head, a steady hand and old-fashioned hard-graft to bring home the points.

As anticipated, Coventry gave Hornets a stern test - if only for 40 minutes. In a first half of multiple missed chances, Hornets allowed Coventry to cling to the tails of the game. But after the break a noticeable lift in tempo and intensity was enough to haul Hornets to an eventually convincing win.

The early exchanges were a taut tug of war, with both sides keeoing it tight on a soggy pitch. But when Hornets did look to move the ball, a forced pass fell fortuitously into the hands of Parker who sprinted 40 metres to gve the home side a shock lead: 4-nil. It would be another 65 minutes before they'd trouble the scoreboard.

Hornets hit back with determination, but were unable to make the pressure count. On 10 minutes a huge Matt Haddon break left the Bears defence in tatters, James Dandy carried the move upfield where Lee Pterson went painfully close on the last tackle. On the next carry, it was James Dandy again, this time breaking from half-way only for a cut-out pass from Ryan Smith to soar into Row E. No matter.

Two minutes later Hornets again pressed the Bears line hard: Wayne English the neat switch pass to Dave Hull who somehow fumbled the ball as he dived to touch-down.

With the first quarter gone, Coventry were now reduced to five drives in their own half and a big hoof downfield. Hornets continued to press: a neat drop off pass by Danny Yates falling into a defending Bear’s paws; a flick-pass from Wanye English deemed somehow forward as Gaz Langley touched down; an exchange of passes up the right channel, but the last pass again called forward. It was a matter of when, not if…

The ‘when’ arrived on 26 minutes; quick hands up the left sent Dale Bloomfield in at the corner. Gaz Langley just wide with the conversion attempt 4-all. Hornets now with the momentum.

On the half hour a mercurial break by Wayne English split the home defence, but his inside pass to Danny Yates went to ground; then Jack Ashworth rose to gather a last tackle kick, dropped off to Lee Paterson whose pass went to ground.

With the half almost over, Hornets went back on the attack, ths time Wayne English wriggling through a tangle of limbs to score after some frenetic approach work. Gaz Langley good with the two; half-time Hornets ahead by 4-10.

Frustrated at the number of bombed first-half chances, Hornets began the second half at a noticeably higher intensity and, within 15 minutes had killed the game as a contest.

On 42 minutes Ant Walker belied the number on his shirt, dummying is way to a spectacular 40 metre try, out-pacing the cover on his way. Gaz Langley the extras; 4-16. On 45 minutes, a rapid break up the left, a dink to the posts, Danny Yates teasingly short as he reached to touch down.

47 minutes Ant Walker again blasting through some sloppy tackles from 20 metres to score under the black dot. Gaz Langley the two: 4-22. 52 minutes Woz Thompson arriving like a train off a short ball to score through a pile of bodies. Gaz Langley with the two: 4-28.

And when Danny Bridge hit a short ball at pace on 55 minutes to punch through and score, Gaz did the honours to give Hornets an unassailable 4-34 lead.

After this whirlwind start, a punch-drunk Bears hauled themselves off the ropes to try and claw their way back into the game. Chivvied by the busy, combative Phillips they pressed, niggled and force a couple of drop-outs. And it was testomony to their desire to keep going when, after a apell of sustained pressure, they stretched the Hornets defence a bit too far, creating space for Boulter to score in the 75th minute. 10-34.

But Hornets weren’t quite done yet. With time running out, Danny Yates produced a cheeky last minute drop-goal to bring Hornets home by 10-35.

On this showing, we imagine that Coventry will probably be the best of the ‘southern’ teams this term. Having already dispatched Hemel and Oxford, and with Skolars and Scorpions unable to buy a win at the moment, only the All Golds look likely to push them, but we think the Bears have the edge on ‘mongrel’.

As for Hornets, the first quarter of the second half is, realistically, the benchmark for the standard we need to play at. High tempo, high completion, high confidence. For a team shorn of half a dozen regulars, though, this was a pleasing performance. Indeed, if the first-half missed chances had been converted, Hornets would’ve been out of sight by the break.

Ultimately, this was a hard-working performance that deserved the plaudits of the noisy Hornets contingent. And it’s a good platform to build on for the bigger challenge of Swinton next weekend.