Monday, 20 July 2015

By Hook - or by Crook.

Hornets 50 - Coventry 22

It’d be churlish to complain too much about a victory in which Hornets nailed 50 points onto a one-dimensional opposition who came with - and stuck to - a game-plan designed to prevent Hornets playing at the right end of the field. And, while Hornets did play some scintillating football in short-spells, this was a win ground-out against a Bears side who’d come to make things awkward and feed of whatever scraps they could find. Primarily - Coventry spent 80 minutes playing five drives and a big kick deep into the Hornets half, hoping for an error. A plan so ugly, even its mother would struggle to love it.

Indeed, in may ways this game mirrored the previous fixture at Butts Park - Coventry chucking everything at the game for half an hour before running out of steam; Hornets comfortably securing the game in the third quarter.

It was a scrappy, hectic start from all parties involved. A third minute Danny Yates kick hitting the corner post; Referee Mr Leatherbarrow indicating a 20m restart - and much debate as to what circumstances dictate when/if the corner post is in/out of play.

Hornets then shipped a soft penalty in the middle of the park. Gifted an easy 40 metres the Bears’ Phillips arrived off a short-pass to crash in and score. So far, so ‘meh’. Nil-4: all a bit flat.

With Coventry coughing the kick-off possession, Hornets  had a chance to run with the ball. First a nice approach set saw Wayne English’s dink into the corner force a repeat set; then a short, flat ball cannoned off Woz Thompson’s chest with the line begging.

On 12 minutes a beautifully slipped Jordan Case pass launched Danny Yates into space. As he weaved and teased his way through the gathering defenders he was somehow held-up under the  posts. Coventry undid their good work with a needless penalty, whereupon Paul Crook dived in from acting half to level the scores. Crooky improving his own try 6-4.

Hornets continued to press and, whern Danny Bridge hit a short-ball to score after 17 minutes (Crooky the extras), Hornets looked to have steadied the ship at 12-4. But when Crooky overshot a 40-20 by a metre and Wayne English was trapped in-goal off a hit and hope kick, Coventry took advantage - Hughes going up the blind side off a telegraphed pass to score. A bit too easy, really: 12-8.

Three minutes later Hornets were caught napping again, allowing the rotund Jack Morrison to barrel 50 metres downfield; from whence a flapping last-minute kick into the in-goal was left to bobble for Cooper to touch down amongst the chaos. Parker the two and - somehow - Hornets 12-14 down. Just shoddy.

On the half-hour, the introduction of Alex McClurg and the switch of Paul Crook to out-half flicked the switch. James Tilley held-up over the line, then another Jordan Case break finding Danny Bridge whose teasing kick behind defenders was just over-hit. Right in the hooter Matt Haggarty crashed through from short range to give Paul Crook an easy conversion. Half time 18-14.

Coventry began the second half in peculiar fashion. Gifted a penalty 20 metres from Hornets’ line they elected to kick into their deficit. *nion-style they took the points to trail 18-16. Most people incredulous. Hornets hit the gas.

Led by the influential Paul Crook, Hornets increased the tempo. A teasing 45th minute Crooky bomb was lost in flight by the Bears defence; Crooky followed up his own kick and - juggling the ball with his fingertips - managed to touch-down. His touchline conversion the icing on the cake: 24-16.

Then two tries in two minutes that effectively killed the game as a contest: Danny Jones skittling defenders to grab his inaugural Hornets try; then a delightfully delayed pass from Paul Crook to put Jordan Case in for a deserved try. 36-16: Coventry hoisting the kick-off straight out; Crooky sliding the ball into the in-goal to force a drop-out. Hornets response was clinical: quick hands right for Dave Hull to shrug-off defenders and score.

Two minutes later Paul Crook produced another 1-metre special to grab his hat-trick. Hornets effectively home and hosed at 46-16.

Coventry did rally briefly to grab a late consolation (Cooper off a short-pass to score), but when Danny Yates forced a 76th minute drop-out off a cheeky kick, Hornets swept the ball wide to give Dale Bloomfield a clear run to the line. Full time 50-22.

In the wash-up, this was - eventually - a fairly comfortable win for a Hornets side that played most of the football on offer. Certainly, the switch of Paul Crook to stand-off triggered a clear refocus in Hornets’ approach, his cool head and right decisions at the right time giving his side more go-forward.

But Coventry are no mugs: they came with a plan, compelled Hornets to start their sets under their own posts and capitalised on the errors when they came. We’ve said here lots of times that one of these development sides WILL upset the form book at some point ( Oldham’s unconvincing 32-4 win at Skolars also billed as an ‘ugly win’ by Scott Naylor) - so the priority for Hornets - and the teams around us - is to win first and then worry about they style in which it’s done.