Monday, 6 May 2019

Plus ça change...

Hornets 10 - Featherstone 56

So, anything happen while we were away? Other than the departure of Carl Forster and the appointment of 'the fans' choice' Matt Calland as his replacement?

Chucked in at the deep-end with the game against his former club Featherstone looming, Calland only had a couple of sessions with the squad before getting a fairly abrupt assessment of the scale of the task in hand.

In a championship that's becoming increasingly stretched between full-time and part-time, haves and have-nots, Fev have had - by their standards - a pretty ordinary season thus far. They arrived at Spotland sitting in 7th with a six-and-six record, but boarded the bus home having demonstrated the clear existence of two parallel championships within the one competition: Hornets reduced to chasing shadows at times as the visitors rammed home ten-tries in a one-sided contest.

Those anticipating some sort of messianic miracle were instantly disappointed: Hornets started the game with a knock-on and 45 seconds later Rovers rake King slumped in from acting half. Chisholm added the extras and Fev were up and running.

With the lion's share of the early possession, Featherstone added to their early score with a quick-fire double whammy: Harrison hitting a short-ball to score under the black-dot on 10 minutes, followed by Chisholm in the same spot after a prestidigitatious exchange of passes up the guts of a sloppy defence. Chisholm converting both and Hornets 18-nil down with 12 minutes gone.

Hornets rallied briefly around the quarter-mark when a rare attack saw the ball shifted wide for Shaun Ainscough to score by the flag for 4-18

There was brief respite as the game became scrappy, which suited Hornets. But when Featherstone found themselves with space to work off a 25th minute penalty, quick-hands worked the ball to Carey who scored out wide.

Hornets ended the half with their best spell of pressure, forcing a drop-out, but getting snagged in possession on the last tackle - a feat they repeated just four minutes later.

The sides retired to the sheds at a modest 4-22.

Hornets started the second-half brightly: Luis Johnson held-up in-goal. But the pressure was short-lived as Featherstone again produced a three-minute two-punch combination that sucked the air out of the contest: Hardcastle with a walk-in through a flat-footed defence, Cooper under the sticks after another huge break up the heart of the Hornets defence. Chisholm on-target and, at 4-34 with half an hour remaining, it became a question of 'how many'?

Featherstone added another double either side of the hour: Carey in the corner after a sweeping move that had Hornets clutching air, then Cooper straight through the middle from 25 metres. Too easy: 4-44.

With 10 minutes remaining Hornets centre Ben Morris stole the ball from a bemused Davis to score (Abram the two) - but Featherstone produced yet another rapid brace: Makatoa in off a short-ball, Golding from close range gliding through a defence gone AWOL. Chisholm on target to give Featherstone a rudimentary 10-56 win.

From a Hornets supporters point of view, this was the difficult first step on a journey of rehabilitation as the new coaching team seeks to reignite what looks increasingly like a side with a confidence crisis.

In the media surrounding Calland's appointment he said that coaching Hornets is 'the job he always wanted'. And supporters now have the coach they always believed could improve Hornets' fortunes.  The test for both starts here.