Sunday, 13 September 2015

And There It Was: Gone!

Hornets 26 - Skolars 22

And so the season ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper. A flaccid limp to the finish line courtesy of a shapeless struggle past a fired-up Skolars - and the failure of Newcastle to produce a second-half miracle to prevent North Wales taking 5th place by a solitary point.

Supporters will look to the last second defeat at home to Newcastle: to the inability to put Keighley away at home, leaving them a chink of light to steal a two point win: to the heroic, but fruitless 12 man defeat at Swinton rather than the floggings we got at Keighley and Barrow.

But like a fading vintage sports car Hornets struggled to start, coughed and spluttered, hinted occasionally at something more impressive under the bonnet, but never really sparked into life, viewing the season not so much as a race to be won, but as an endurance test to be overcome.

Yes we chugged all the way to the very end - but by then the teams with the real horsepower were pretty much out of sight. And, once your hopes rest in the hands of a Newcastle side that has singularly failed to live up to its *nion-backed, big-money billing, you know you’re pretty much stuffed.

As it was, the moribund-rubber of the Skolars game represented our season in microcosm: flashes of brilliance straining to shine amidst a frustrating, error-strewn, penalty-scattered mirage of a game that, just when you thought you could reach out and touch the moment when things would click, it evaporated before your eyes.

Hornets started unconvincingly, allowing Skolars to dictate play. And even when the visitors shipped back to back penalties to give Hornets momentum after 15 frustrating minutes, a 2nd tackle knock-on by Danny Bridge sent supporters slumping back into their seats.

It took 20 minutes for Hornets to break the deadlock: a block-busting run from Woz Thompson took Hornets close; Matt Fozzard spinning free from acting half to score. Crooky the two: 6-nil.

Hornets were suddenly switched-on. 26 minutes - a huge Tony Suffolk break continued by Danny Yates, he found Danny Bridge who launched Lee Paterson deep into the Skolars half. A pinpoint kick to the corner saw Gaz Langley catch and score, but the referee saw an offside somewhere and chalked it off.

No matter - within three minutes Hornets were back in the Skolars 20. A bit of a fortuitous penalty -  after Dale Bloomfield appeared to run into a defender - gave Hornets the platform to swing the ball wide where extra man Wayne English ghosted through to score. 10-nil. Crooky appeared to slot the conversion through the posts, both touch-judges raised their flags - but the Ref. over-ruled them and wiped off the conversion. Bizarre.

This minor glitch became a major wobble as - with 8 minutes of the half remaining - Skolars took full advantage of a static Hornets defence to score two basic quick-fire tries. The first a clean mid-field break by Benson to put Anthony under the black dot. The second an old-skool runaround with Coleman as the pivot for Anthony to stroll through and score. Connick good for both: Skolars in front by 10-12. Frankly, awful.

With the half grinding to an end, Hornets did salvage some respectablity when a clean break by Gaz Langley and some crisp, direct football slotted Alex Trumper in for a well crafted try. Half-time 16-10.

Hornets began the second half in scrappy fashion. A big kick-return by Wayne English was squandered when his needless inside pass fell into Skolars hands. The visitors took full advantage - carving straight through the middle of the Hornets defence for Anthony to grab his hat-trick. Connick the two: 16-18.

Hornets crashed and thrashed around for the next 20 minutes: forced passes, dropped ball, daft penalties galore as they persisted in trying to break down the big physical Skolars pack.

It took until the 62nd minute to work out that the way through was by going round - and when the ball was whipped wide to Dale Bloomfield he hit the gas to skin his opposite number from 40 metres. Hornets in front 20-18.

Two minutes later another big bruising break from Woz Thompson was the catalyst for a sweeping 60 metre move, with Danny Bridge on the end to finish off an excellent team try. Gaz Langley with the two: 26-18.

But the spark was an ephemeral one. With five minutes remaining Hornets again switched off on defence for Morgan to slip in for an eyewateringly easy try: 26-22 and an awkward, edgy finish as Skolars went in search of an unlikely win.

As it was, time ran out and Hornets snuck into 5th place for 24 hours. But it wasn’t enough. In every sense.