Hornets vs Royals 10/24/15.
Top of the table matchup between two undefeated teams – the Hornets and the Royals collided at Forrest Park on Saturday. The Hornets were fired up from the start, with Brad Christ winning the opening kickoff and setting up good field position. After some errant passes, the Hornets were able to set up camp in the Royals half, eventually earning a penalty from 40 metres out which Juice nailed for the opening point of the game. 3-0 Hornets after 5 minutes. But the Hornets lead would be short-lived as the feisty Royals started to dominate the game with good defensive line speed and spread passes running the Hornets defence from side to side. A counter attacking opportunity saw the Royals capitalize with a try under the posts after 8 minutes. The conversion put the Royals ahead 7-3. The Royals showed why they are the class of the competition with well-structured attacking play and disciplined defence. An attacking Royals scrum inside the Hornets 22 saw the 8-man pick and use a big blind side to crash over for the second try of the game. Conversion made it 14-3 Royals after 16 minutes. With the Royals loosehead prop disrupting the Hornet front row, a scrum turnover inside the Hornet 22 lead to another easy Royals try with the conversion extending the lead to 21-3 after 23 minutes. Despite continued pressure, the Hornets were able to hold out the Royals for the rest of the first half to keep the score 21-3 at the break in favor of the Royals. But no inspirational Mick halftime speeches could help the Hornets on this day. Immediately after the second half kickoff the Royals winger scored to extend the lead to 28-3 with a successful conversion after just 41 minutes. Another wide try to the opposite Royals winger at 51 minutes, with the Royals fly half putting on a goalkicking clinic to make the score 35-3. The Royals added an easy penalty at the 60 minute mark to extend their lead to 38-3. But the Hornets hung tough, and with the Royals tiring and some Hornet subs coming on, the Hornets scored their first try of the game coming with a backline move seeing Matt Merrick sneak through a half gap and offloading to Donovan Unsworth to crash over under the sticks. Easy conversion for Juice made it 38-10 after 64 minutes. The Hornets began to build some momentum by retaining possession and not kicking, and the Royals under the pressure began infighting and giving away penalties including a yellow card to the flanker who sliced Nick Kalist’s face open in the opening minutes. After 70 minutes, Matt Merrick scurried over out wide after a nice backline move from a strong Hornets scrum. Juice showed he is human, missing his first conversion in about a month. But that would be as close as the Hornets could get on this day, with the final score 38-15 to the Royals. The game proved to be a sobering reality check for the previously undefeated Hornets, showing there is much work to be done if they are to challenge the Royals for D3 supremacy in St Louis. Areas of concern include defensive organization, too many high tackles, and too many loose passes. But there were some positives on the day including a nice comeback in the second half, during which the Hornets looked good when they were able to retain possession and string several phases together. The Hornet scrum got stronger as the game wore on, and Brad Christ was able to shut down the Royals lineout in the second half after he got their timing down. Best of the backs were Matt Merrick and Donovan Unsworth. Best of the forwards were BK, and man-of-the-match the tackling machine Adam Wright.
Score – Royals 38, Hornets 15 (Tries – Don Unsworth, Matt Merrick; Conversion – Juice 1/2; Penalties – Juice – 1/1).
Scrums – Royals 5/7 (71%), Hornets 8/12 (67%)
Lineouts – Royals 7/11 (64%), Hornets 1/6 (17%)
Penalties – Royals 10, Hornets 13.