Hornets vs Royals 04/18/15.
The Hornets put their 8-game win streak on the line against the league-leading Royals at Forrest Park. Fired up by a great pre-game speech, the Hornets came out on fire and immediately won a penalty on a turnover ball after trapping the Royals inside their own 22 on a clearing kick from Andre. Juice slotted the penalty to make it 3-0 to the Hornets after just 1 minute. The Hornets dominated the rucks and scrums in the opening 20 minutes, but were unable to capitalize on the scoreboard due to some last passes not going to hand, good scrambling Royals defense, and some questionably close penalty calls especially in the line-outs. The Royals started to get some momentum from all the penalties and caught the Hornets napping several times taking quick taps with the Hornet defenders backpedaling and not looking. With more possession, the Royals set up some solid attacking phases in the Hornet 22 but good defense kept them off the try line, but the Royals settled for an offside penalty. The penalty attempt was successful evening the score at 3-3 after 24 minutes. As the adrenalin started to fade, the Hornets scrum no longer dominated allowing the Royals to work from some solid platforms. A scrum inside the Hornet 22 saw their scrum half pick up from the base and attack the blindside, getting outside the flanker and forcing Miles to come in from his wing which left the Royals winger open for an easy pass and try in the right-hand corner. Conversion was successful after a penalty for high tackle placed the attempt from right in front. Score 10-3 to the Royals after 30 minutes. The Royals kept ball in hand and worked their way down the field. Inside the Hornet 22, a lifting tackle awarded the Royals a penalty and left the Hornets down a man for 10 minutes with Nick Kalist sent to the sin bin on a very questionable decision. The successful penalty attempt put the Royals ahead 13-3 at halftime. The Hornets played tough with only 14 men on the field, and actually camped inside the Royals 22 after managing o retain some consistent possession for the first time in the match. A penalty slotted by Juice closed the gap to 13-6 after 43 minutes. Another penalty attempt from a much tougher angle would have put the Hornets within a try at 48 minutes but sailed wide. The near miss seemed to spark the Royals into action with the thought they might lose their first Cup game in 2 years. They sparked in attack, particularly with their back 3 in kick returns and from broken play, and some clever little kicks from the #10. At 52 minutes, the Hornets lost their only scrum of the game, and the possession inside the 22 led to some wide passes and an overlap saw the Royals score in the corner. Conversion successful to put the Royals ahead 20-6 after 52 minutes. The Royals were now full of confidence and running, and the Hornets began to tire in defense. Lack of cover defense from the inside saw the Royals with a 3 on 1 overlap down the left hand touchline which resulted in another wide try to put the Royals up 25-6 after 60 minutes. But the Hornets would not quit on this day. Some reserves came on and made an impact, with Joey Dickerson picking up a ruck turnover to rumble 30 meters down the sideline to score the Hornets first try. Juice’s conversion narrowed the gap to 25-13. Penalties still killed a lot of Hornet momentum, and a penalty kick gave the Royals some breathing space at 28-13 after 73 minutes. But with more ball in hand the men in black and gold worked their way down the field again and Joey Smelt made a good pick and go from a scrum and found Brad Christ back on the inside to score another Hornet try. Conversion put the Hornets in striking distance at 28-20 after 77 minutes. But time ultimately ran out on the Hornets leaving them with their first loss in almost 5 months. Great effort from the Hornets, never gave up and proved to the Royals and themselves that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming playoffs. The Royals' tries came from where we expected – kick returns, broken play and turnovers. The Hornet set defense was solid, but cover defense and scrambling defense needs work. Hornet scrums showed massive improvement but a mental lapse lost them the most important one of the game. Line-outs were a problem. Back line made some good initial inroads on early phase ball, but pushed too many last passes. We will see these guys again, and I think the result will be different if I can find another inspirational wrestling reference. Man of the match was Brad Christ.
Score – Royals 28, Hornets 20 (Tries – Joey Dickerson, Brad Christ; Conversion – Juice 2/2; Penalties – Juice – 2/3).
Scrums – Royals 8/10 (80%), Hornets 6/7 (86%)
Lineouts – Royals 3/5 (60%), Hornets 5/9 (56%)
Penalties Awarded – Royals 18, Hornets 9.