Francis double helps Hornets to draw
- Credit: Archant
Hornets were held to a draw by Old Redcliffians, with both sides pushing for a top four finish.
Hornets 17 pts
Old Redcliffians 17 pts
Hornets welcomed Old Reds to The Nest for a match that had the capability of defining either side’s season.
A win for Hornets would pull them clear of Old Reds and position them to push for a top four finish, while a win for Old Reds would see them overtake Hornets.
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In the event, neither side won the game, but it ended in stalemate with the two sides sharing the points and still having all to play for over the coming weeks.
Hornets saw various changes to their starting side, with Jermaine Jones returning from injury and Jack Gadd making his first start for 18 months. Ben Fry made his first start at scrum-half, having played on the wing previously and found himself up against his brother, Dan, the Old Reds No 8.
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Old Reds kicked off and Hornets had an early penalty which Jones kicked to touch. Possession was lost and Old Reds cleared deep into the Hornets half. Joseph Gadd ran the ball back, broke the line and passed to Charlie Carter, who looked like scoring but spilled the ball.
Both sides conceded penalties and had their defence tested, but no early score came. Matthew Parker was the stand-out defender and again ran the ball at the visitors at every opportunity.
As the half wore on, the Old Reds scrum started to gain the upper hand and it was from a solid scrum that they broke down the blindside to open the scoring.
Hornets hit back when Jones ran the ball back from a clearance kick, the ball was quickly recycled and Adam Francis scored under the posts. Sean Disney converted for a 7-7 half-time score.
Old Reds started the second half the stronger, particularly their set piece which was putting Hornets on the back foot. A series of strong scrums saw the visitors’ backs break the line and a further scrum saw Hornets marched backwards and a penalty try awarded.
Hornets wrestled their way back into the game and following a scuffle, Old Reds were reduced to 14 men and Hornets took quick advantage against the seven-man pack and scored again through Francis.
It was then Hornets who were reduced to 14 men when Conor Baker was sent off for an offence at the breakdown. Old Reds scored the resulting penalty to extend their lead to 12-17.
From the restart, Old Reds kicked clear and again Hornets ran the ball back. A penalty was awarded which was taken quickly and Jones crashed over in the corner to draw the scores level.
With time left, Old Reds had opportunities to snatch the win, but failed to convert three penalty kicks, leaving them frustrated at the final whistle, while Hornets were reasonably happy to share the points.
On Saturday, Hornets travel to Old Patesians where they will be looking to register a win and keep up the pressure on the teams above them in the league.