Sunday, 27 January 2019

Done and Dusted

Hornets 20 - Warrington 24

Well that's pre-season done - and what have we learned? Mostly that playing together over time yields improvements in understanding and teamwork. No real rocket science there - but Hornets did show a tangible improvement in the space of a week as Carl Forster and Tony Stewart continue to mould this new squad into a unit that can hold its own in the Championship.

Augmented by some South-Sea muscle and a smattering of Super League experience, Warrington's tyro Wolves provided a sharp test - as Hornets once again took their DR Partners to the wire in an entertaining contest.

Hornets were out of the blocks immediately: a shift left after just five minutes saw Stu Howarth slot skipper Lee Mitchell into a yawning gap to score: Dan Abram the extras.

It took Warrington a good 15 minutes to get up to speed, but once there they showed an incisive edge with a triple whammy of three tries in nine minutes that effectively won them the game. First-up the eye-catching Riley Dean backed up a Thewlis break to race under the black dot, then added his own extras.

Anglin then squirmed in from close range before the rangy Akauola bounced in off a post to score. Dean with another two conversions to give the visitors a 6-18 lead just past the quarter.

With the arm-wrestle tightening, Scott Moore was unlucky to receive a yellow card for what looked like a case of clumsy mistiming, but 12-man Hornets stood firm and went to the sheds trailing by 12.

Not to be outdone, Wolves' wing Collins began the second half with a yellow card of his own for talking back: the visitors then belied their numerical disadvantage to fashion a Jamie Abram try off a Dean break for 6-24.

As the hour mark ticked round, Hornets found a way back into the game. A Carl Forster pass launched Mike Weldon in centre field, the back-rower showing a handy turn of pace to blast in from 40 metres. He was followed to the whitewash seven minutes later by Shaun Ainscough who rose to gather a Stu Howarth kick and crash through his opposite number to score.

And when Hornets shipped the ball through hands to the right for the impressive Jordan Case to touch down (Abram the two) - it left Hornets with two minutes to try and carve out the win. But Warrington's defence clung-on and, in the end, the result came down to goal-kicks.

Dinky dynamo Dec Gregory picked up the sponsors' Man-of-the-Match for a non-stop display of perpetual motion at the back of the ruck; Shaun Ainscough took the supporters' vote - and you couldn't argue with either really.

In this final test before the serious business starts next weekend, whilst Hornets still look like a work in progress, there is clear progress in the work done thus far - with more to come under meaningful match conditions.

Once again, every gobshite pundit and bar-room bullshitter in the game is writing Hornets off. Indeed, we heard it first hand at the weekend from the assistant coach of a club that should know better. But that's ok by us - let them all underestimate us. It works to our advantage.