In their final pre-season match before embarking upon a new campaign in a new league, Western Counties North, Hornets received a wake-up call as to the level that they are going to be expected to reach in order to compete.
Having made the short trip down the M5 to North Petherton, a side that finished 7th in Western Counties West last season, Hornets found themselves up against a much sterner opposition than in the previous outings this term. Up against strong opposition and in conditions more suited to ducks, the visitors found themselves under the cosh from the outset. This was made clear within 2 minutes when the hosts broke through the defence to score the first try, which was duly converted by their new fly-half, recruited from National 2. Within 5 minutes the lead had been doubled when the Petherton winger rounded the Hornets defence to score under the posts, this was also converted and Hornets were facing a 14 point deficit.
This was the catalyst that saw Hornets try to raise their game and there were some signs of positivity in their play, but All
too often opportunities were squandered through handling and other errors. One such incident, with Hornets on the attack and working an overlap saw a poor pass being given that the home centre intercepted and ran through to score his sides 3rd try, again converted. Another key factor in the early exchanges was the speed of ball that each side had to play with, Hornets having to resort to pick and go ball in an effort to speed things up. In comparison their hosts had quick ball that they were able to throw around and cause problems. However Hornets were starting to gain parity in most exchanges and had upped their performance, no doubt thanks to a number of changes made at the end of the first quarter.
Having been buoyed by their improvements the visitors again went on the attack, making big strides up the pitch and piling pressure on their opponents’ line. However they were unable to capitalise and the half ended with no further scores.
The second half started much more positively with North Petherton being turned over at the restart and Hornets unleashing their speedy backs. On this occasion a chip through ran a little too far resulting in a 22 drop out rather than a try but 7 minutes in Hornets were on the score sheet thanks to a Tom Bradley
drop goal, reducing the arrears to 18.
The exchanges were now more even and on occasion Hornets seemed to have the upper hand in certain areas, pushing the hosts back in the scrum and putting more pressure on in All
areas. The mistakes hadn’t gone completely but they were at least forcing their opposition into making them as well. The breakthrough came half way through the half, following further changes to the side, when Bradley burst through the middle, fed the ball to Cornish and he ran round the remaining defenders to score under the posts. Lloyd-Jones was successful with the extras and Hornets were back in contention.
Cornish again proved to be the master finisher a few moments later when he picked up spilt ball from Petherton and raced through to score out wide for his second. Unfortunately the conversion fell just short, but the score was now 21 – 15.
In the closing minutes the home side crossed again in the corner for an unconverted try to take the final score to 26 – 15. Despite this Hornets can take some pride in the way they fought back and after the start did well to regroup and win the second half. They now need to take this late form into the league and build on it in order to achieve their objectives for the season.