Monday, 7 May 2018

Dews-buried by Heroic Hornets

Dewsbury 27 - Hornets 32

This was a win of heroic proportions. Stripped of eight regulars, this Hornets side made up of kids, triallists, loanees, DRs and sheer determination produced a stunning last-play win to break a debilitating losing streak and turn up the heat on the clutch of sides above them on six points.

We wrote in our preview that desire would be the telling factor and - in what proved to be the tightest of games - every single person in the ground of a Hornets persuasion wanted it more than their Dewsbury counterpart. Indeed, the club as a whole needed this to lift spirits, boost confidence and reinstate some belief - and the scenes on and off the pitch at the final hooter revealed the relief and dissipation of the doubt that had crept in.

Dewsbury on the other hand had six regulars back in their side, but for long periods struggled to make meaningful headway against some stern defence.

Hornets began by applying some early pressure: a Danny Yates kick drawing the fumble out of Worrincy only for the ball to slip loose from Earl Hurst hands in traffic as Hornets shifted wide.

With both sides wrestling it out, Hornets got the break they needed: the impressive Tyler Whittaker pouncing on a loose Rams pass to blast 50 metres to score. Whittaker the first of a flawless afternoon with the boot to give Hornets a 0-6 lead.

Dewsbury responded swiftly. Scott striding through a stretched defence after 11 minutes to put the home side on the board.

The game was now attritional. Dewsbury making good metres; Hornets pushing the Rams back with a barrage of kicks. And when the home side were awarded a 19th minute penalty, Hornets produced some great defence as the home side ran out of ideas - and then shipped a penalty.

Upfield, the home defence was snagged again and Tyler Whittaker slotted home the two-pointer: 4-8.

Back in the grind, Hornets came close when the ball squirmed from Lee Mitchell’s grasp with the line at his mercy. Off the hook, Dewsbury turned the screw, Hornets again producing some tough defence - but having withstood the pressure, Tyler Whittaker was fooled by the postage-stamp dimensions of the pitch, sending his clearing kick into Row D. Dewsbury saw their chance - Brown hitting a flat-ball to score under the black dot, Glover the two to edge Dewsbury ahead at 10-8.

On 33 minutes all hell broke loose: Danny Yates hit very late by a shoulder charge, Matty Hadden diving in to exact retribution, both sets of players squaring off. After some admonishing chat to the captains and a bit of finger-wagging, Referee Mr Mikalauskas gave Hornets the penalty.

Hornets marched straight downfield where impressive debutant Jonah Cunningham was held up over the line. Next set the ball was worked to Seta Tala who looked to have few options - except pile it in and drag defenders over the line with him to score. Impressive. Whittaker the two and Hornets headed for the sheds 14-10 to the good.

The home side began the second half in determined mood: Speakman looked held-up over the line (and the body language of his team-mates looked to confirm it), but a try was given. Glover the extras to put the Rams back in front at 16-14. Hornets hoofed the kick-off dead, the resulting penalty taking the Rams deep into Hornets’ half - only for the home side to butcher the chance spectacularly up the narrow side.

On 47 minutes Worrincy coughed the ball cold in the tackle - no-one more surprised to get a penalty than him. Guzdek taking advantage as Hornets switched off on the last tackle. Glover on target and the home side in charge at 22-14.

But Hornets had other ideas. on 56 minutes Tyler Whittaker kept the ball alive in front of a retreating Rams defence, finding Seta Tala who powered in for his second. Whittaker on the mark, 22-20. Game very much on.

With Lewis Hatton removed - staggering after a cheap, late high shot - Matty Hadden returned to the fray as Dewsbury pressed hard - but a timely Richard Lepori interception cleared Hornets’ lines. Up the other end Hornets worked the ball to Matty Hadden who proved too strong for the Rams defence, slamming in to score on 65 minutes. Whittaker raising the flags to reinstate the lead at 22-26. Dewsbury now chasing the game.

And it was the home side who struck next: an outrageous show & go from Moore opened up the defence for him to score: then controversy as one touchie flagged the conversion as good, the other as having missed. The referee said ‘no’ and the sides were locked-up at 26-all with six minutes to play.

In their desperation, Dewsbury went early for the clincher: Moore the 75th minute drop-goal to edge them ahead and send the home fans into wild celebrations. But wait…

The Rugby League gods gave us 80 minutes for a reason - and with the clock ticking down, Hornets kept cool heads and edged the ball to within 20 metres of the Dewsbury line. Looking to get something from the game, Tyler Whittaker’s drop-goal attempt was charged down - and with a new set of six, Hornets went for the knock-out blow. With the home defence now out on its feet, the ball was worked to Dec Kay, who produced some slick footwork to leave a trail of defenders grasping at air as he weaved his way under the black dot to cue wild celebrations as the home fans streamed for the gates. Whittaker slammed home the two and - with the singing off the noisy Hornets contingent riding in their ears, Hornets played out the last tackle of the game with no dramas.

What a day, what game, what a performance. Brave, gutsy - and yes, heroic. Post game Alan Kilshaw said it was one of the finest victories of his tenure - and who are we to argue? Every single player gave every ounce they had and the appreciation of the travelling support at the end recognised that.

It was - in every sense - the transformation we needed. Now let's kick on...