Hull Ionians 31 v 27 Hinckley Hornets
By Malcolm Knowles
I's take sting out of Hornets revival.
Hull Ionians 31 v 27 Hinckley Hornets
Ionians made a phenomenal start to the match, with a try in the opening minute, but despite building a comfortable lead at the break had to conjure a late score and hang on by the skin of their teeth to deny Hinckley victory in an enthralling game at Brantingham Park.
The Ionians effort had everything that was missing in last week’s performance; drive, direction and belief, and they needed it against a direct and confident Hinkley side intent on ending Ionians impressive home record. The home side did aid the Hornets intentions by giving the ball away with an alacrity bordering on suicidal, particularly with some unnecessary and ill-judged kicking, but it certainly ensured it was a close run thing.
Mercurial Minikin scored the early try, finishing off an excellent build up with Mark Wigham leading the charge before gaining support from Ed Falkingham and Ben Stephenson. Tom Stephenson swept the ball across to Steve Slingsby who slipped a pass inside allowing Minikin to glide through to the line. Minikin added the extras and Ionians had the initial advantage, 7- 0.
Ionians were irrepressible at this stage and further excellent interplay, with Falkingham again heavily involved, created a second try for Minikin who was on hand to profit from a powerful break from Toni Kuku, taking the offload to cross in the corner. A well judged kick from close to the touch-line put Ionians 14 – 0 in front.
The Hornets pulled themselves together and through a series of drives arrived close to the Ionians line. They showed commendable patience against the hosts aggressive defensive wall and Ben Pointon spotted a gap to worm over to pull a score back. Prolific full-back, Joe Wilson, added the conversion and Hinckley halved the deficit, 14 – 7.
Hinckley continued to gain the majority of possession, assisted by Ionians profligacy, and Ionians were grateful for a penalty awarded within the 22 that allowed Tom Stephenson to clear beyond halfway. A clean take from James Newman set the home pack trundling forward; once stopped the ball was popped up to Billy Hardy who employed his powerful physique to barrel over from close range. Minikin extended the lead with a successful conversion but they could have piled on more agony for the visitors had they not ignored a two on one with the line wide open and then they had the three front runners in a kick and chase but knocked on with the line beckoning. Still, Ionians went to the break with a comfortable lead, 21 – 7.
Hinckley showed pragmatism early in the second half, electing for three points from a relatively difficult kick rather than a more speculative kick to touch, and Ionians put further light between the sides with another free flowing move resulting in a try for Sam Wilson. Once again Toni Kuku produced a powerful run, he dragged in a number of defenders to pull him to ground and when the ball was spun down the line there were insufficient left to cope with the wing healed wonder who stretched out to dot down in the corner.
Despite the arrears Hinckley were gaining confidence from the surfeit of possession and on 52 minutes they replicated their earlier try, this time winger Callum Dacey sneaking over from close range, after Hinckley had probed away at the home defence.
Wilson had a chance to add a straight forward penalty but the normally reliable marksman pulled his effort wide, however the Hornets had their tails up and they created a lovely fast paced move for centre Mitchell Lamb to race away to score, Wilson’s success off the tee closed the score to 26 – 24 and had the hosts visibly rattled.
Ionians appeared to be wilting under the pressure and with so much at stake it was no surprise when Wilson again elected to go for goal when Hinkley were awarded a penalty. There were no visible nerves as the kick sailed over and the Hornets took the lead.
Ionians brought on fresh legs for the final throes. Reinvigorated, they worked the ball back into the opposition half and a line-out 10m out was just the fillip they needed. Up went Ed Falkingham and on went the drive, relentlessly the pack inched their way forward and over for a try for Adam Brown and Ionians were back in the lead, 31 – 27.
The final minutes were frenetic. Hinckley piled on the power and Ionians dug deep to hold on. Forced to defend deep in their own half the delight was palpable when Hinckley knocked on to give Ionians a touch of the ball. Mr Raynor determined there was no need for any further action and blew time to end a hard fought, entertaining and enthralling encounter. Onward to Threshfield next week and more drama.