OPPONENT: Franklin County Crimson
LOCATION: Washington, MO
SCORE: HORNETS - 24, SCORPIONS - 13
MAN OF THE MATCH: Mike Jones
Match Recap: Hornets vs. Franklin County 03/07/15.
The weather gods smiled on us last Saturday as the cold weather broke and the Hornets took on Franklin Country in Washington on a beautiful, sun-bathed 65 degree afternoon. This was the Hornets first game back from the winter hiatus after running off five wins on the trot to end the fall with a record of 5-2. The first half was a scrappy affair, clear that it was both teams first runs of the spring, as there was penalty of handling errors and miscommunication. Although having just one full outdoor practice before this game, the Hornets intensity and tackling was good from the opening whistle. The Hornets were able to string together some solid phases of play early, up to 11 phases inside the opposition half at one point, but became too obsessed with running slow balls and forward crashes which played into the hands of the bigger Franklin County pack, leading to turnovers at the breakdown. Franklin County won a penalty 30 meters out which their hooker slotted to give them a 3-0 lead after 9 minutes. However, even playing with a decent breeze at their backs, FC never really threatened the Hornet line much in the first half. With the Hornets starting to string together some passes off the back of scrum moves and some better continuity in the backs, some strong runs from Miles Criss, Nick Kalist and Mike Jones got the Hornets into the opposition 22. The FC forwards got caught offside from a ruck, and from the penalty stand-in scrum half Brad Bearden took a quick tap to catch the defense napping and squirt over for the first try of the game. But Bearden’s unhappy day with the boot continued, missing the conversion to keep the Hornets lead at 5-3 after 33 minutes. From some miscommunication at a scrum, FC forced a scrum turnover and their forwards crashed over right on halftime. The conversion put FC ahead 10-5 entering the break. After the first half, the Hornets seemed to shake off the winter rust and played much better in the second half. The big FC pack began to wear down, and now the Hornets began to hold their own in rucks and started winning their scrums and some of Franklin Country’s scrums as well. After 52 minutes, hands out wide finally got the last pass to Miles Criss who had his opposition crapping his dacks all day. Miles easily went around/over him to score in the corner. A tough conversion sailed wide to knot the scores at 10-10. A muffed kickoff saw a turnover and FC earn an ensuing penalty. Their goal kicking hooker snuck it over the crossbar to put FC back on top 13-10 after 56 minutes. But that is where the scoring would end for FC. Their forwards ran out of gas as the smaller, fitter and faster Hornet forwards started running circles around them. Donovan Unsworth and Brian Saak were able to control field position with excellent tactical kicking, with good chasing and tackling from Tommy Bach and Dan Goodrich pinning the FC back 3 consistently inside their own half. After another penalty to the Hornets, Nick Kalist took a quick tap and dove over after 58 minutes. Donovan slotted the conversion to make it 17-13 Hornets. The Hornets dominated possession for the last 20 minutes and apart from one situation which Saak defused in the Hornet 22, were never really threatened. Nick Hildebrand stole a FC scrum and quick hands in the back line saw Tommy Bach crash over at the 72 minute mark. Donovan slotted a long range conversion to make the final score Hornets 24 – Franklin County 13. The win extends the Hornets winning streak to 6 in a row, and also gave them the 4-try bonus point. Best of the forwards were Joey Smelt who did a great job at the base of the scrum, and man-of-the-match Mike Jones for holding strong in the second row and making multiple strong runs. In the backs, Donovan Unsworth really controlled the second half with his down field kicking.
Score – Hornets - 24 (Tries – Brad Bearden, Miles Criss, Nick Kalist, Tommy Bach; Conversion - Bearden 0/3, Donovan 2/2); FC - 13
Scrums – Hornets 9/15 (60% - 7/8 in second half); FC – 3/5 (60%)
Lineouts – Hornets 5/10 (50% - 3/4 in second half); FC – 6/10 (60%)
Penalties – FC 11, Hornets 11