Sunday, 13 May 2018

Hornets Suffer Industrial Action

Hornets 10 - Batley 48

It was a classic case of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ on Saturday as Hornets buckled under the strain of a growing injury list that left the team shored up by an ever increasing number of kids, loanees and DRs. Having lost Gary Middlehurst and Lewis Hatton in last week’s Dewsbury game, Hornets this week lost Dave Allen ahead of the warm-up, necessitating a reshuffle of the pack and the introduction of Alex Gaskell into the 17.

Indeed, Batley’s rather special brand of utilitarian industrial-process football is hard enough to overcome with a full strength side, so when Hornets took a shock lead after 13 minutes - Dec kay dancing through a flat-footed defence after 13 minutes - expectations were temporarliy raised.

But as Batley’s heavy-duty approach began to gain traction, they slowly hauled the game their way, building pressure as Hornets struggled to get out of their own half. Batley cane close after 17 minutes, but Rowe backed into the post on the last tackle when it looked easier to score. But, when Deon Cross fell victim to a spiralling bomb and Hornets were snagged offside in the aftermath, Batley sub Ward went slumping in from 18 inches. Walker the extras and Batley edging ahead.

Then more pressure from the visitors: Jo Taira snagged for a penalty attending his first tackle, then Rob Massam knocking the ball dead after Batley had stretched the defence. But Hornets stood their ground.

Starved of the ball for much of the first half hour, Hornets needed a break - which came when Danny Yates went skittering through a hole to unzip the Batley defence, but his inside pass out of the tackle  went to ground. Off the hook, Batley trundled back upfield where Hornets defence switched off on the last tackle to allow Crookes to lean in and score. Walker the two and Batley extending their lead to 4-12.

Hornets did endeavour to play some football - Seta Tala launching Rob Massam for the corner after 34 minutes, only to see him bundled into touch by the flag.

With the half running on fumes and Hornets now on the ropes,. Batley hit them with a late double whammy - Galbraith stepping up the left edge; Day backing up a Walker break - to give half-time score a decidedly lop-sided look at 4-24.

Most disappointing was that majority of the damage had been self-inflicted through poor decision-making, needless errors and frustrating penalties.

Batley began the second half with a bang - somehow bombing a 4-on-1 sitter with the last pass comically forward. This heralded a scrappy period where neither side looked capable of completing a set. The stasis was broken when Galbraith talked himself into a penalty, then a 10m addition, then a yellow card.

But it was Batley who capitalised on their numerical disadvantage. First on 52 minutes, two needless show-boating reverse passes from Danny Yates and Dec Kay led to a 50m interception try by Ainscough, Then Farrell taking advantage of some ordinary defence to score. Walker good with the boot and Batley heading for the distance at 4-36 with 25 minutes still to play.

With the result now in no real doubt, the game entered a scrappy period: the only respite coming from Billy Brickhill who went agonisingly close after Hornets had forced a 60th minute drop-out.

Hornets did get some reward for their persistence, Dec Kay backing up a Deon Cross break on 70 minutes to score his second. But the relief was short-lived, Batley’s Gledhill cruising in under the black dot after a huge line-break. This time Farrell with the two.

With the game in its death throes, Jonah Cunningham was dispatched to the sin-bin for lying in the ruck; Batley making the most of this late advantage with Brambani grabbing a try with 90 seconds remaining.

Regardless of the scoreline, this was a game so unsightly its mother would struggle to love it. Yes Hornets looked like a side struggling for shape and fluidity - lots of graft on show, but little real craft. But for Batley ‘winning ugly’ is their modus operandi. They are a side untroubled by aesthetics - preferring the application of torque, pressure and impact. And, we think, withstanding these, is the first step to overcoming them.

Let’s see if Hornets can when we get to do it all again at Mount (un)Pleasant next Sunday.