Hornets run riot against the Harlequins

Hornets v Oxford.

Hornets v Oxford. - Credit: Archant

Hornets registered their most conclusive result of the season against Oxford Harlequins.

HORNETS 56 pts


AFTER last week’s credible performance in Devon from a young Hornets side, they made further changes for the visit of Oxford Harlequins, which saw the team take on an even younger look.

Into the squad came four young players from last year’s Colts to make their National League debuts. The youngest, Matt Cates, one of Hornets youngest ever first team player at 17 years and 10 months. The other debutants being Jacob Swain at 18 and Lewis Brake and Bailey Jackson, both 19.

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With three of last year’s Colts side also making international age group appearances over the last week, Curtis Langdon and Josh Caulfied for England Under-18s and Alex Colbourne for Canada Under-20s, it is safe to say the youth policy at Hornets is paying massive dividends.

Hornets kicked off and Oxford immediately knocked on. The first scrum was solid and three quick phases saw Adam Francis feed Matt Cornish, who made ground and passed to Tom Bradley to score with only a minute on the clock.

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Hornets maintained the pressure and James Letherby took the opportunity to register three more points with a well-taken drop-goal.

A Hornets scrum saw Conor Littlewood break and feed Greg Speller, who made good ground. He found support from Brake, who crashed through the defence and then Bailey was stopped just short of the line. The ball was then fed to the backs and Cornish crashed over in the corner for a 13-0 lead.

With Hornets in the ascendency, Oxford were suffering from a series of handling errors and Hornets were able to take advantage. First Swain made a great break out wide and as the ball was recycled, Littlewood went over to score.

Littlewood then broke free himself and an impressive jinking run saw him dance over to give Hornets a 25-0 lead with half-time approaching.

There was time to score again. Another solid scrum saw the backs move the ball through Letherby and Jermaine Jones for Cornish to score in the corner to make it 32-0 at the break.

Half-time saw Alec Chase join the fray and help to put the Oxford pack under even more pressure. The stalemate was eventually broken when Hornets moved the ball wide for debutant Swain to touch down for his first try.

On the hour, Cates arrived on the pitch for his debut and he picked up from Littlewood distributing the ball well and managing the pack well. With the game opening up, Hornets took full advantage of the space and added three further tries in the last 10 minutes.

First Cornish added his second and Letherby converted. Then Hogarth crashed through to score and Cornish rounded off the day with his hat-trick try to give a final score of 56-0.

On reflection, it was a big day for the club with the blooding of a series of youngsters resulting in the most conclusive result of the season.

The result will certainly make selection interesting for next week’s visit of Chard, who are firmly rooted to the bottom of the league table.

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