National League 2 West: Hornets 45-27 Clifton

Hornets welcomed Clifton to the Nest in the latest National League 2 West match and probably put in their best performance of the season and arguably their best ever league result as they beat Clifton by outscoring them by 6 tries to 5. 

The clubhouse was packed beforehand for an old players reunion meal and a Q and A with ex Hornets Bristol’s Josh Caulfield and Harlequins coach Danny Wilson, and all were treated to a fantastic high scoring game. 

Clifton as you would expect came out of the traps at full pace and had Hornets defending for the first 10 minutes and eventually the visitors were rewarded with a try and they opened the lead.0-7. 

This infused the Hornets pack, and they began to start to dictate the set piece and scrum especially and had the large Clifton forwards under pressure, as a result of a penalty and the kick to the corner the well worked try came from prop Jake Caulfield and Charlie Carter converted to level the scores after 15 minutes.7-7. 

Hornets running with ball in hand had the back division of the visitors under pressure and wingers Stanley Norman and Pierre Tucker were enjoying go forward ball. Another penalty in midfield to Hornets and this time skipper Courtney Harris asked Carter to kick the goal which put Hornets in front after 25 minutes and the lead which Hornets would not give up all day.10-7 

Hornets midfield were making inroads into Cliftons half and when Connor Vickery was given the ball 10 out the big centre barged over and lead extended when Carter converted.17-7 

Now in the last minute of the first half it was Vickery who made a break from inside his own half and a couple of inter passes and a ruck the ball shipped form Hayden Tuttiett to Kieran Ward at pace and the hooker surged over untouched and again Carter added the extras and Hornets went into the break in front by 24-7. 

Clifton looked a bit bemused as within 2 minutes of the second half starting again it was a try by Ward following a catch and drive lineout and Carter was again on target.31-7 

Clifton are a classy outfit and they again set up a series of attacks and were rewarded with another score.31-12 

Hornets now could sense an upset and Clifton were guilty of giving up the ball far too easily especially in the lineout and when Hornets attacked this time it was Carter himself who dived over in the AGM corner and the conversion to follow.38-12. 

Then came a red card for Hornets on 55 minutes as Caulfield was adjudged to have tackled too high and with danger and so Hornets had to play the remainder of the game with 14 men. 

Naturally this was the chance Clifton were waiting for as they used the extra man advantage to great effect and scored 2 quick unconverted tries. 

Hornets though were not going to let this one slip and again attacked and when Tucker went over in the corner Hornets knew it was in the bag and the conversion again by Carter took his personal tally to 20 points and an assailable lead 45-22. 

Clifton threw everything at Hornets as only 2 minutes left and were able to get another try at the death before from the restart Hornets controlled the ball and kick it dead to allow the ref to blow the final whistle much to the delight of the big home crowd. Final Score Hornets 45 Clifton 27. 

This was a remarkable result for this team but it has been bubbling under the surface all season and this time the scalp of a well-established National League team was their reward for all the hard work and move another 5 points further away from the relegation zone and safety. Next up next week is the long trip up North to Chester and another new venue to visit as Hornets Quest at National League rugby continues.