Latest League match report

27/04/19 Tigers  1st XV 14 - 17 Hull Ionians


With Ionians already Champions and Tigers safe this looked like a game with little to play for. However, having only lost by 2 points in the first game of the season Tigers wanted to show that was no fluke. At the same time the Hull lads wanted to go out on a win and receive their medals and the league shield from the Yorkshire president who was in attendance. The weather did its best to intervene with storm Hannah in full flow just as the game kicked off. Tigers were playing into the teeth of the gale but intent on playing running rugby. A great break by Gregg Mellor found Tommy Hart in support and he was brought down just 5m short of the line. The Tigers scrum held its own but a penalty let the visitors clear up to half way and ease the pressure. Tigers, however, were not going to be thwarted and from his own 22m Mellor made another superb break cutting through Ionians like a knife through butter. As he went into the opposition 22m he found Al Symcox in support and he took the ball on drawing the last defender before feeding it back to Mellor to score under the posts. Mark Ireland converted and Tigers were 7 – 0 up with just eight minutes gone. An injured Sam Johnson was replaced by Louis Townsend but the Tigers pack was still holding its own and pushing the opposition scrum back on a number of occasions. Ionians are not top of the league for nothing and they started to launch their own attacks and, eventually a missed tackle by Tigers allowed Minikin through to score a try which he also converted to make it 7 – 7. Both sides showed they could defend and attack but, as a totally biased observer, Tigers backs looked the more potent and ambitious of the two. The scrum was performing well with Toby Williams making some powerful runs and Matt Adcock chasing and tackling everything and anything. With the wind behind them Ionians were able to clear the ball upfield whenever they were under pressure and from a 5m lineout on the Tigers line they got an offside penalty which Minkin slotted over to give the visitors a 7 - 10 advantage. Tigers now launched a number of attacks with Lewis Bloor making some powerful runs and Kain Rix providing the support. From a Tigers attack that broke down Hull kicked the ball through and a foot race ensued. With the ball on the 22m it looked like they were going to score but the wind helped Tigers as the second kick through went long and resulted in a 22m drop out. A brilliant re start by Ireland saw the ball dropping to ground on the halfway touchline where Rix suddenly appeared and gathered the ball. He set off down the wing and looked certain to score but the assistant referee saw a foot touch the side-line and he was pulled back. With halftime looming a clumsy tackle by Rix saw him yellow carded and the half time whistle went.
The second half found Tigers under pressure with the 14 men having to defend as Ionians tried to extend their lead with some powerful runs. They defended well with the forwards battling for the ball and Ireland using the wind to get field position. Tigers were guilty of giving away penalties but, with the wind still blowing, the visitors found themselves unable to make much headway. The Tigers scrum replaced Rix with Liam Wallace and Symcox with Lee Orton but were still pushing the Ionians scrum back and disrupting their play and back up to 15 were beginning to show some good attacking play. From a Tigers lineout Hart made a powerful run and found Broadley in support as they broke upfield Henri Packard made himself available and a well-timed pass found him sprinting for the line and in for his 21st try of the season. Ireland added the extras and Tigers were deservedly just ahead at 14 - 10. Will Bennett replaced Ed Simmons in the front row and with 20 minutes still on the clock the game was clearly going to be a tight finish. Both teams were now looking to attack and the Tigers pack was beginning to feel the strain of the massive amount of work they had put in. Ionians began to get some control in the pack and from a penalty and the subsequent 5m line out they successfully set up the rolling maul and replacement tight head Bell went over for a try which was well converted by Minikin. Ionians had now sneaked ahead by 14 – 17 and it was Tigers turn to chase the game and did they try. For the last 7 minutes of the game they kept the ball and attacked the visitors goal line. For most of that time they were between 5m and 2m out but Ionians defended strongly and each time Tigers looked like scoring they pushed them back. Tigers went through 20 phases but still could not break down the defence and when Ionians finally got the ball they gratefully kicked it dead and took the game. It was difficult to tell which team were the Champions and which had been battling for survival. A draw would have been a fair result but, as Tigers know to their chagrin, the small defeats can cost you dearly. Similarly, the small victories can be important.
So another season draws to a close with some high points and some low. What is encouraging are the new players who are beginning to come through and look like real contenders for first team honours next year and some of the more experienced players who are still with us. As a side we do well to retain our National 2 status and if we could just turn some of the narrow defeats into wins, we would be up the top fighting for honours. Roll on next season – after a welcome break.

Scorers: Tries: Mellor (1), Packard (1)
Conversions: Ireland (2)

Team: Williams, Johnson (Townsend), Simmons (Bennett), Holland, Symcox Al (Orton), Rix (Wallace), Adcock, Bloor, Holmes, Ireland, Packard, Hart, Broadley, Mellor, Duffy (Davidson)

Replacements: Townsend, Bennett, Orton, Wallace, Davidson

Man of the match  - Matt Adcock

Match Report by: Graham Cockshutt