League leaders given a fright by Hornets

PUBLISHED: 13:04 17 April 2006 | UPDATED: 09:10 24 May 2010

HORNETS were five minutes away from maintaining their unbeaten home record when Mike Panoho was controversially sin-binned with the side leading 34-29. Mounts Bay took advantage of the extra man and scored two tries to de

Hornets 34 pts Mounts Bay 41 ptsHORNETS were five minutes away from maintaining their unbeaten home record when Mike Panoho was controversially sin-binned with the side leading 34-29.Mounts Bay took advantage of the extra man and scored two tries to deny Hornets an extraordinary and unexpected victory over the semi-professional outfit from Cornwall. Hornets went into their last home game severely understrength with at least six players unavailable or injured. Mount Bay had the best of the early exchanges and were soon 12 points to nil in front, thanks to tries by Adam Redgrave and Ryan Western.Hornets first try followed a trade-mark rolling maul that saw Bruce Richard driven over and with Mark Mansfield converting, Hornets were back in the game. However, Mounts Bay continued to show why they have been promoted as the outstanding side in the league when their Fijian centre Pale Nonu made a powerful break, setting up Western for his second try.This was converted and although Mansfield landed a penalty to bring the score to 19-10, Mounts Bay continued to look dangerous whenever their backs had possession and it was no surprise when they increased their lead with a converted try by Owen Hambly.At that stage of the game, with only 30 minutes gone, and Hornets losing 26-10, it appeared the game was all but over. However a second Hornets try scored by Dave Geddes following more good work by the forwards, gave the side confidence and the half-time score of 26-15 to the Cornish visitors was a fair reflection of the first-half action.After the interval, Mounts Bay increased their lead to 29-15 with another Western penalty, but Hornets then produced some of their most enterprising and competitive rugby of the season, scoring three tries, two converted by Mansfield to take the lead 34-29. The first was set up by Jason Gould whose powerful thrust enabled the league's leading try scorer Mike Panoho to go over for his 19th league touch-down of the season.Hornets backs came more into the game and good handling put Mark Mansfield away and when he was brought down near the Mounts Bay line, the Hornets pack set up a rolling maul for Dave Bird to cross for the fourth try.Their fifth quickly followed when more good handling by the three-quarters put Dave Underwood on a 40-metre run to the line. At that stage, an unlikely win appeared possible, but the late sin-binning of Panoho turned the game.Tries by Peter Bush and Owen Mambly saw the visitors home to a rather fortunate victory. During the game, Hornets passed the 1000 points for the first time in their 44-year history.The squad and coach Johnny Gordon deserve to be congratulated on their remarkable achievement. The final league game of the season on April 22 is away to Exmouth and a victory should consolidate a third place finish in the league. This combined with a Somerset Cup final appearance, has produced one of the most successful seasons in the club's history.

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