Monday, 21 March 2016

Hornets do a Pro Job on Siddal

Hornets 48 - Siddal 20

We should know the script by now. Draw an amateur side in the cup and they’ll chuck the kitchen sink at you for half an hour, score a try or two, celebrate like they’ve won the lottery - and tell anyone who’ll listen that the only difference between League 1 and the NCL is a contract.

Having bullied Newcastle in the previous round, Siddall made a decent fist of this contest: yes, putting themselves about a bit,  leaving limbs in every tackle, but playing some decent football in the process to prove once again that - on any given Sunday - a good community side can be only 28 points worse than a League 1 side.

Siddal set the template for a scrappy afternoon, conceding the first of their 10 penalties in the first set. From the resulting possession Hornets moved the ball around, Stu Biscomb straightening-up to punch through and score. While Siddal stood under their crossbar contemplating the fact Newcastle probably don’t provide a true benchmark for League 1 football, Crooky knocked over the two.

For ten minutes , Siddal strove to find new and interesting ways to goad penalties out of a particularly picky referee: lying on taken straight from the WWE handbook; a high shot on Danny Yates…

On 13 minutes Siddal exploited a penalty - working the ball wide where Bakosa found space to score by the flag. Multiple orgasms all-round for the visiting fans.

Hornets response was swift and direct. Jo Taira punched a huge hole through his opposite number, James Tilley hard and straight to score; Crooky the extras: 12-4

But Tilley went from hero to villain in the space of three minutes: conceding a penalty in possession for walking off the mark; Siddal gratefully accepting the free 50 metres; Garratt arriving at pace to score a well-taken try. Brooke the two. Visiting fans a sodden mess at 12-10.

There was really only one thing for Hornets to do: step up the pace, take the game by the scruff and get into the sheds with the tie already in the bag. On 25 minutes James Tilley went crashing onto a short ball to score; then a big diagonal run by Chris Riley on the half hour mark created space for Dale Bloomfield to outpace the cover and score. On 37 minutes Matt Hadden hit a short ball at pace to score after a great Corey Lee break. And on virtually the last play of the half Alex McClurg mugged the tiring visitors from acting half. Four tries in 12 minutes giving Hornets a 32-10 lead at the break.

With the game gone, Siddal played some tidy football in the third quarter. A big kick in the 43rd minute saw Corey Lee bundled into touch on his own 20m line; Siddal moving the ball to Boults who reached through to score: 32-14. And Siddal struck again  just three minutes later: this time Boothroyd outjumping a stretched defence off a Brooke kick. Brooke added the two and, at 32-20 all the momentum with the visitors.

The fourth quarter was a different tale as Hornets found an extra gear to end Siddal’s resistance. On the hour mark Samir Tahraoui bullied his way over to score - to the delight of the visiting fans who booed him all afternoon for having the temerity to play round an ongoing niggling campaign.

On 66 minutes, a moment of comedy gold as Siddal’s Brooke hoofed a clearing kick into the back of  his own player’s head: accidental offside. Ben Moores ruthless from acting half: 42-20.

On 70 minutes, the try of the game. Samir Tahraoui’s huge midfield break, Ben Moores in support, Corey Lee on the outside ball to leave the cover in his wake. This time Danny Yates the two and Hornets home and hosed at 48-20.

With the game ebbing away, James Tilley had what looked like a perfectly good try struck off for a forward pass. Ah well…

From Hornets’ point of view, it was a perfunctory win against a well-organised amateur outfit that came to play and gave an excellent account of themselves.  Indeed, you’d imagine that Siddal coach Gareth Greenwood would be praising his side’s efforts… er, no.

In quite the most churlish, bitter, ungracious way possible he was bleating to the Haliax Courier post match about just how unfair it all is that professional teams have access to professional coaching and facilities while amateur teams are - well - just a bit amateurish sometimes.

Speaking in the Halifax Courier he clearly wasn’t a happy chap: “I don’t feel that happy… we’ve conceded 48 points against a pretty average team, so I’m not happy.”

“The first half was penalty, then try, penalty, try and it just went on like that.” Given that that’s how Siddal acquired their first two tries, we couldn’t agree more…

“I didn’t think they were any better either, they just got more penalties; we got a couple and scored two tries.” The penalty count was 10-7 - maybe he needs to look at his side’s discipline…

“In the end, it looked like what it was; a team that’s probably done 100 gym sessions since November and trained together 100 more times against an amateur team.” Yep - that’s the level of commitment expected of semi-pro players...

“If people saw the amateurish things that we try to patch up on match days; you put a video session on and nine of them turn up, your centre tells you he’s playing for his rugby union club and you have to pull someone in from the second team. We couldn’t quite patch all those things up enough and it told on us in the end.” Yep - that’s why amateur teams are amateurs…

“The second half was better, but I don’t think they’re a good team.” True - we’re as good as we can be with the resources and personnel we have. North Queensland Cowboys - now, they ARE a good team. They’d probably beat Siddal too.

“Every time we got near their line it looked like they were going to capitulate and if they end up playing a team like Halifax in the next round then I’m sure they will.” That’ll probably be because Halifax are at the top of the division above. Much like Hornets are in effect in the division above Siddall. If we lose in the next round, we'll be sure to have a good cry.

Ultimately, the big differentiator in professionalism is attitude - and a key part of that is learning to win and lose with grace. Greenwood’s bitter rant demeans his side’s exceptional effort - and that, in itself, is the most unprofessional thing of all.