Monday, 17 February 2020

Storm Sam blows Acorn's cup chances


Forced round the M60 by a high-tide at Spotland, Hornets comfortably avoided a Challenge Cup banana-skin, seeing off York Acorn by a 44 point margin.

Despite some moments of sloppy application, Hornets had way too much in the tank for the NCL Premier side: Sam Freeman leading the way, scoring more than half of Hornets points singlehandedly.
With two tries and a flawless nine goals from nine attempts in horrendous kicking conditions, his virtuoso performance began after just two minutes when a stepping run to the line left Acorn defenders mesmerised.

Hornets were over again just five minutes later when a fumble from a kick gave them good field position, and Jamie Tracey bumped off defenders to score. Hornets ahead of the clock.

Some desperate defence from Acorn kept Hornets at bay until the quarter mark, when Lewis Sheridan embarked on a scuttling dash through defenders to somehow get the ball down.

On the half hour, referee Mr Sweet sought advice from his touch-judge for a robust tackle, followed by a skirmish - Jamie Tracey shown a yellow card.

A man short, Hornets responded  by creating a huge overlap on the left edge for Dale Bloomfield to score. Sam Freeman's wind-adjusted conversion off the whitewash was exceptional stuff.

Hornets closed the half as they'd begun: Lewis Sheridan the teasing run, Sam Freeman the try. Half time 30-nil.

Hornets started the second half with intent. Sharp and direct up the right channel, Ben Calland extended his arm, but landed just short. Next play Shaun Ainscough proved too powerful from close range. This time, Sam Freeman slamming the ball hard and low over the bar into the teeth of the gale.

Five minutes later Ben Calland got his try after some nice approach-work, followed to the line three minutes later by Adam Hesketh - too big and too strong from close range. Hornets 48-nil to the good with 20 minutes to play.

Acorn then produced their best 10 minutes of the afternoon. Sustained pressure saw Gallacher drift wide and step back inside to score to the delight of the travelling fans. Hornets then made a hash of what looked like a poor kick going nowhere. From the resulting set, Acorn sent in Hardcastle from close range.

Hornets had the final word, though: a neat interchange of passes up the left flank saw Dale Bloomfield feed Jack Higginson in for the try that took Hornets over the 50. Sam Freeman landing his ninth from nine to take the man of the match plaudits.

All up, you'd have to try hard to complain about this one. In challenging conditions - and featuring more debutants - Hornets looked solid and efficient. Yes, there were a couple of shoddy moments and yes Hornets switched off for 10 minutes at 48-0 nil, but this was a case of getting the job done.

Hornets now face the British Army in the next round - they saw off Ince Rose Bridge in their previous tie and, with a handful of Fijians in their side, look like a handy outfit.

Pray for a dry week - and we might just get to play them at home.