Battling basement side prove a handful for Hornets
- Credit: Archant
Hornets retained their youthful line-up in their victory over basement side Chard.
HORNETS 34 pts
CHARD 20 pts
Hornets welcomed basement side Chard to The Nest and in doing so, they retained the youthful line-up from last week and they handed a National League debut to winger John Xanh, another member of this year’s successful development squad.
Hornets started well and turned the ball over from the kick-off and early possession saw Adam Francis break the line and Xahn benefitted from an overlap out wide to score for a 5-0 lead.
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Immediately from the restart, Francis again broke the line and surged into the Chard half. Stuart Vinnicombe was in support and darted over to score. James Letherby added the extras and with six minutes on the clock, Hornets led 12-0.
Chard, through their pack, started to muscle their way back into it and eventually registered a penalty score of their own.
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However, Chard lost a player to the sin bin and Hornets were able to capitalise at the resulting penalty. The kick went to touch and a maul was set up at the line-out. As the forwards rummaged their way to the line Alec Chase was able to break from the back to score.
Hornets then turned the ball over on halfway and a clever kick through from Conor Littlewood saw Letherby win the foot race and touch down.
Adam Francis broke through again and Hornets turned over the line-out and Phil Hogarth charged through. The ball was quickly recycled and Francis broke the line to score to make it 29-3 at half time.
If the first-half had been dominated by the Hornets back line, the second half proved to be a different affair and was dominated by the Chard pack.
Chard changed their game plan and kept the ball tight and used their forwards to repeatedly smash the ball up where Hornets young forwards started to struggle against the sustained pressure.
Under the mounting pressure, Chris Francis saw yellow and from a scrum shortly afterwards, the seven-man Hornets pack found themselves pushed back over the line for Chard to score their first try.
Chard were now electing for scrums whenever they could and were completely dominant. A further period of forward pressure saw a further try to make the score 29-15.
Hornets showed some good character to put in a period of possession and were rewarded when Sam Balkham scored in the corner to give a lead of 34-15 with 10 minutes left.
Chard still had time to turn the screw further and add a third try of their own, but eventually they ran out of time.
With the two teams above them in the league losing, it is now within Hornets’ own control to push on in the remaining four games of the season with the possibility of finishing third in the league.
However, before returning to league action at Bracknell on Saturday, there is the small matter of a Somerset Cup semi-final against local rivals Weston on Tuesday evening.
The match will take place at Bridgwater RFC and will kick off at 7.30pm. Hornets will be hoping for a large following to support them in what will be one of the biggest games of the season and a great warm up to the league match against Weston which is coming up on April 11.