Monday, 12 September 2016

The Best of British

Hornets 34 - Hunslet 18

And lo, a robust and fluid Hornets sent a frankly awful Hunslet packing, securing the highest British finish in League one - and the scant reward of another schlep down to Toulouse for the Promotion Final.

Whilst Killer is confident that Horners can go down there and give it a bloody good dig, it’s little consolation to the Hornets faithful who are effectively denied the opportunity to see their team play in a final. A FINAL, for god’s sake.

It’s not often that clubs of Hornets’ modest stature get to play in finals, but as League 1 is effectively a defacto mechanism geared to salve TOXIIIC’s passage into the Championship, fans, staff and players alike are considered collateral damage in this ludicrous exercise. We’d ask  - in what other sport would the final be rigged in such a way that one side can’t take its supporters to enjoy their club’s big day out? To a final played at the home ground of a team that has already been massively advantaged over the course of a season? It smacks of a set-up - because it is.

The £450 and four days it costs to go to Toulouse are prohibitively expensive in both time and monetary terms. Indeed we spoke to a Hornets player yesterday who said sarcastically: ‘My boss will be delighted that I have to ask for more time off’. It’s crooked and it stinks.

Still, we’re sure the 300 TOXIIIC fans will have a nice afternoon…

Meanwhile back in the realm of ‘real Rugby League’, a significantly bigger attendance of 690 saw Hornets swat off a sprawling, spoiling Hunslet. For those detractors who somehow believe that not playing in front of thousands is a mark of failure, it’s interesting to note that Hornets had the biggest crowd of the day in League 1 (TOXIIIC no-doubt again massaging their crowd to include all non-attending season ticket holders, visitors to the sports centre and anyone walking their dog in the park) - and a crowd at least 100 bigger than three of the four games in the Championship shield.

For the second week running Hornets went off from the gun. Hunslet’s Sanderson coughed a bomb under pressure from Lewis Galbraith, the ball whipped wide for Dave Cookson to spin and juggle his way over. Crooky the two: 6-0 after just 90 seconds.

And when Jordan Case backed up a fizzing Danny Yates break five minutes later - only to be snagged for a dubious forward pass - it looked like it might be a long shift for the Hawks’ defence.

Eventually, Hunslet huffed and puffed their way upfield, but Casey knocked on with an overlap begging, then shipped a penalty at the scrum. Hornets srteamed downfield where a brutally direct approach-set - aided by back-to-back penalties for interference - found a determined Ryan Maneely burrowing in to score. 12-0

To their credit, Hunslet responded in kind. They found touch with the kick-off and, with Johnson looking certain to score out wide He was bullied into the corner post by Lewis Galbraith and Dale Bloomfield. Stunning defence.

As the quarter ticked over, a spat at the ruck saw Samir Tahraoui and Hunslet’s Williams dispatched with yellow cards. Hornets were first to settle: a neat show & go from Jono Smith found Chris Riley looping in as the extra man to score. Crooky fading wide: 16-0

Then came a brief perioid where Referee Mr Roberts looke like losing his tenuous grip on the game. Hunslet’s Carbutt yellow carded for punching, Lewis Galbraith the same for running in. And when Jo Taira was somehow pulled out of the next flashpoint and sent for 10 minutes, we had 11 v 12.

No matter, Hornets showed some exceptional defence to repel a Hunslet side clearly out of ideas: The half ending with Brown delivering quite possibly the worst last-tackle kick of the season - hoofing the ball comedically dead. Half Time 16-nil.

Hornets began the second half like the first: Dave Cookson bullying his way in off a Crooky short-ball. Crooky raising the flags for 22-nil.

On 46 minutes, Hunslet finaly showed-up: Ansell skating in for a well-taken try, followed five minutes later by a less aestetically pleasing effort from Lee. Brown the two: 22-10

And when the referee basically held his hands up as having no idea what was going on after a questionable 40/20 attempt, he gave Hunslet the feed. They worked Barnett into acres of space out wide to score and, at 22-14, we had the most unlikely of comebacks.

Hornets’ response was swift and clinical. Crooky finding touch from the kick-off after confusion in Hunslet’s left channel; Woz Thompson smuggling the ball to Jo Taira whose miracle offload found an unstoppable Samir Tahraoui arriving to score. Crooky hitting the post from bang in front: 26-14. Hornets went for the big finish and delivered two tries in two minutes.

Firstly, the ball was worked to Chris Riley who rounded off his best game in Hornets colours with a deserved try; then Lewis Galbraith gathering a Steve Roper dink to take Hornets 34-14 clear.

Ansell’s last minute 70 metre interception try gave the scoreline a thin sheen of respectability for the visitors, but this was a dominant performance from a Hornets side that looked every inch like table-topping material.

All that remains is to find a way to get to Toulouse next weekend!