Monday, 27 June 2016

Corey Lee-ves Hemel Reeling

Hemel Stags 6 - Hornets 60

Corey Lee came roaring back into the Hornets team with a stunning performance. A hat-trick of tries, one slick assist and a second half stint at full-back in which Hornets nilled the hapless Stags saw the speeedster have his best game yet in Hornets colours.

And, while the scoreline eventually reflected Hornets’ dominance, this was a game that posed some gnarly challenges - especially in the ruck, where referee Mr Bloem’s somewhat liberal tolerance of the home-side’s  desire to slow the game to a standstill gave the game a stuttering, stop-start nature.

And - to add injury to insult - Chris Riley copped a broken hand that will see him sit out the next few weeks.

The game started in sloppy fashion, early dropped ball gave Hemel a gift of a chance. Held-up over the line, Delaney then produced a teasing kick for Hall to touch down - only for the try to be struck-off for offside.

Having escaped the early threat, Hornets produced a pair of quick-fire tries to seize momentum: Corey Lee at the heart of both. After 5 minutes his lightning break up the left found Danny Yates in support; five minutes later the ball was whipped wide where he found space to squeeze in by the flag. One from two for Crooky and Hornets up with the clock at 10-0.

To their credit, Hemel hit back at the earliest opportunity: keeping the ball alive, with quick hands for Bryan to score. Swindells added the extras and, at 10-6, the noisy bunch of visiting fans in a paltry crowd of 115 shook heads and raised eybrows; but Hornets took back control immediately.

On 18 minutes Jono Smith hit a flat-ball from Yatesey to pile in through traffic to score, followed swiftly by James Tilley hitting a crash-ball at pace from 5 metres. Two conversions from Crooky and a veneer of respectability at 22-6.

As the half wound down, Hemel had one last trick up their sleeve -  a huge break from Adams off a high kick had Hornets defenders scrambling, but the line held firm. Indeed, Hornets marched straight downfield where Jono Smith was pulled back, touching down off a forward pass.

With the timekeeper shaking his hooter, a break engineered by Samir Tahraoui and Jono Smith ended with Corey Lee scooting away to score. Half time 26-6 - and still some work to do.

Three tries in the opening 7 minutes gave Hornets a dominant start: a shambolic knock-on-athon from the kick-off, Jono’s break up the left and Jordan Case capping an eyecatching return, crashing in. Two minutes later a Samir Tahraoui break led to a Yatesey kick for Jono Smith to force a drop-out. New-boy Ryan Maneely showed a good eye for a gap, jinking across the face of the defence, to step in and score. Three minutes later it was Jono Smith again wreaking havoc in the home defence, sucking in defenders before finding Lewis Galbraith with a peach of a pass. Hornets out of sight at 42-6.

Hornets almost stretched the lead further when the ball slipped agonisingly from Jordan Case’s hand as he reached through a tangle of defenders to touch down. And stretch it they did four minutres later when Jo Taira found Danny Yates in support, Corey Lee on hand to take the pass for his hat-trick try.

With ten minutes remaining Hornets took advantage of a tiring home defence to sign off with two more well-crafted tries. Firstly Jono Smith’s dancing feet bamboozling defenders to set up an inside ball for Danny Yates to score; then Lewis Galbraith snaffling a Yatesey kick on the run to leave defenders in his wake. Crooky slotting the two and Hornets good value for their 60-6 win.

The game ended in a flurry of angry air-shots - Dale Bloomfield arbitrarily selected for a pointless yellow-card on the hooter.

In the wash-up, this was a convincing win - but for long periods Hemel hung in and took the game to Hornets. And, while the Stags, took full advantage of some favourable refereeing to sprawl, spoil and frustrate, Hornets found ways to play round the mess and rack-up the points. Frustratingly, York remain just two points of points difference ahead in second place.

But next week they travel to Toulouse, while Hornets welcome a Keighley side that seems to be having a bit of a confidence crisis since they were handed their arse in France last week, slipping to a narrow home defeat to Barrow on Sunday.

Keeps life interesting. And, having seen Spotlland’s lush new swathe at the weekend, it’ll be good to end this first phase of the season on home turf.