Monday, 16 March 2020

Strange Times.

York 70 - Hornets 12

We live, it seems, in strange times.

Last year, Hornets fans saw their side systematically dismantled 60-nil away at York. Having travelled this time with positive expectations, this game served as a reminder that Hornets is a club in transition.

Despite working hard - and improving last year's 'nil' - Hornets succumbed to a York side that was half a yard faster, half a second smarter and devastatingly more creative out of the back of the tackle where second phase ball repeatedly found Hornets stretched and scrambling.

Having moved the game to Post Office road due to Coronavirus concerns at Bootham Crescent, York were out of the blocks quickly: winger Bass grabbing the first of a hat-trick out wide after just 7 minutes. He was followed to the line in quick succession by Clarkson and Robinson to give the 'home' side a 16-nil lead by the quarter mark.

Hornets did rally, though. A tricky, weaving break from Lewis Sheridan swept Hornets downfield, but as Hornets rushed to support, an attempt to pass saw the attack break down.

York took full advantage of the let-off, scoring two tries in as many minutes through Marsh and Butterworth.

With just two minutes of the half remaining, a solid Liam Whalley tackle led to a scuffle, the Hornets man dispatched for ten minutes. 12-man Hornets then shipped another penalty from which York moved the ball wide for Butterworth to step through and score. Half-time, a shell-shocked 34-nil.

Hornets started the second half with noticeably more intensity - and got their reward with two close range Lewis Sheridan tries in the opening ten minutes. But it was brief respite.

York kept the scoreboard operator busy with scores coming at a steady pace: Marsh with his second, Bass with two more for his treble, Johnson skating in off a cute dummy, then Robinson at the death to bring up the 70. An object lesson in power and support-play.

As York go into the hat for round six, the immediate future for the game hangs in the balance as the country goes into an increasing lock-down to combat the spread of Coronavirus.

Super League clubs meet with the RFL today (Monday) to discuss what happens next. We're told that Championship and League 1 clubs are due to meet on Tuesday.

Late last night (Sunday), the BBC was reporting that RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer had said that rugby league would '... continue to follow government advice and allow games to go on until a point when either mass gatherings are banned, which could be as early as next weekend, or there is a positive test in the sport...'

This was followed by an announcement from Toronto Wolfpack that four of their players were self-isolating after reporting mild coronavirus symptoms, that they had stood-down their entire playing staff and that the club was "... waiting for a directive from the League's governors".

So we watch and we wait. Strange times indeed. Now wash your hands.