Hornets end first National League season with victory

Rugby Hornetsv Newton Abbott.

Rugby Hornetsv Newton Abbott. - Credit: Archant

Hornets finished their first season at National League level with victory over Newton Abbot.

Hornets 34 pts

Newton Abbott 29 pts

Hornets welcomed Newton Abbott to The Nest for the last league game of their first season at National League level.

The visitors put in a great display of open running rugby, but in the end an impressive fight back from the home side saw Hornets win the day and collect a bonus point win against a side that beat them earlier in the season.

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Hornets kicked off and enjoyed some early possession within the first five minutes, which led to Conor Baker crashing over for the opening score.

However, Hornets’ early possession was short lived with Newton Abbott hit back with a try of their own and went on to add two further tries and open up a 17-5 lead.

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Hornets were looking disorganised and their defence was struggling to hold the line, but managed to strike back through Danny Bailey, but there was still time before half-time for Newton Abbott to touch down again and go into half time with a convincing 22-12 lead and their bonus point already in the bag.

Despite some stern words from the coaching staff at half- time it was the visitors who started the second half in the ascendency.

First Sean Disney saw yellow having deliberately knocked the ball into touch in a desperate bid to stop another attack and then the visitors’ hooker burst through the defence to touch down for try number five. The conversion was added and Newton Abbott held a 29-12 lead with 20 minutes remaining.

With the backs struggling to contain their opposite numbers and no backs available on the bench, coach Jack Gadd, stepped in to ring the changes and by making four positional changes hoped at least to shore up the defence.

The changes paid dividends almost immediately with Alec Chase spinning a wide pass to find Phil Hogarth lurking on the wing who crashed over in the corner.

If this proves to be Hogarth’s swan song he will have enjoyed the try and it will be a reminder of what the side will miss next season from a player who has given such great service to the club and along the way played well over 300 times for the first team

Hogarth’s try proved a catalyst and the Hornets’ back line then clicked into action with Steve Thompson and Jermaine Jones finding gaps and with the forwards getting the upper hand in the loose, Dibble sprinted over to pull the score back to 29-22.

Hornets attacked again and with Newton Abbott trying to run out of defence, Jones intercepted and touched down under the posts. Letherby converted with a drop kick and with time running short the game was now all square at 29-29.

With Hornets now rampant, the winning try was almost inevitable. Newton Abbott were called offside at the re-start and the pack secured the scrum on halfway.

Conor Littlewood broke from the back and danced through the first two defenders, Dibble then stepped around the next line of defence offloaded to Thompson who made ground and found the pass to skipper Chris Francis who dived in at the corner to record the Hornets’ sixth try and seal a great victory to sign off a successful first season in the National League.

At the start of the season Hornets would have been happy to finish sixth in the league, but given the early year form which saw them in the top four for much of the season, the final placing is a slight disappointment.

However, overall a great season for the club and next week sees them in with a chance of silverware as they play Wells in the final of the Somerset Cup. The game takes place at Bridgwater on April 28, kick-off 7.30pm.

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