Unbeaten Colts narrowly beaten in league decider

Jacob Parkman.

Jacob Parkman. - Credit: Archant

Hornets Colts were beaten by Cleve in a winner-takes-all title decider.

Hornets Colts travelled to Cleve in a league decider fixture, as both sides were unbeaten and Hornets just came up short in the final hurdle as Cleve managed a narrow victory.

With Cleve able to pick all their academy players, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the much smaller and younger Hornets team.

The first attacks were being snuffed out by both sides as defences were outstanding. An infringement and a kick to the corner for Cleve and a classic catch and drive and Hornets couldn’t keep them out.

Cleve were throwing everything at Hornets, but they more than stood up to the challenge and began to apply pressure of their own. Hornets got into Cleve’s 22 and Aplin supplied the perfect line-out as Bate gathered and was assisted by his pack. He got close but couldn’t get over.

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Cleve cleared their line, but Hornets spun the ball wide with Holyday to Hill at full pace, but they were thwarted by good covering tackling.

Richardson and Coppage were superb all day as their runs opened up the defence and Hornets went close again, but could not break through.

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After the break, Cleve managed to get their big forwards running at pace and Hornets ran out of tacklers as they went over, quickly followed by another.

Wall made a break from his 22, a quick ruck and Richardson was on hand. Then Bate sped off, he was eventually stopped, but managed to offload to Holyday who finished a superb team try to make the final score Cleve 15, Hornets 5.

Although disappointed not to win the league on this occasion, Hornets now look forward to the play-offs as runners-up, against the equivalent league in Gloucester and play Cheltenham in April.

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