Hykeham performed well but ultimately fell short against county rivals in the first round of this year's RFU Junior Vase
Hykeham 1st XV were in national cup action on Saturday, welcoming Cleethorpes 1sts to the Memorial playing fields for the first round of the RFU Junior Vase. Cleethorpes, currently sitting joint top of Midlands East Division 4, came to Hykeham in good form on the back of some bonus try league wins. Hykeham fully anticipated a strong challenge from their county rivals, yet still went into the fixture with confidence, fully focussed on causing the upset.
With weather conditions perfect for expansive rugby Hykeham aimed to open up their game a little; getting back to the old 'Hykeham style' of making use of the whole pitch width to create space for the backs. Cleethorpes kicked off facing the glare of the Autumnal sun, and the game started at a rapid pace. Within the first 2 minutes, it appeared that the match may not have been as one sided as the away side may have imagined, as Hykeham got off the mark with a quick counter attacking try. Under pressure, Cleethorpes fumbled a deep ball, and quick thinking scrum half Nathan Bunn scooped up the knock on, carrying the ball to the 5 yard line where he was able to offload a certain try to Keith Jones who was rewarded for his supporting run. The conversion was missed from a tricky angle near the touch line. The lead was short lived however, as Cleethorpes responded well with a penatly kick through the uprights and a coverted try.
Cleethorpes brought a large and experienced pack with them, and they certainly domainated the scrum in the opening 20 minutes. However, as the game went on, Hykeham's scrum got into their rhythm and began competing strongly at resets despite the obvious weight disadvantage. The game was a confidence booster for the forwards who began getting better hits at the set and retaining position. The backs also had their best game of the season to date, with the work put in at training developing moves, really paying off within the game. Through good running lines and passes the backs carved out several chances as Hykeham dominated the closing stages of the first half. Just before the half time whistle Hykeham were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. With the ref, who had a good game, stunting the quick tap penalty to talk to the infringer, Josh Dandy stepped up to take the kick. The kick that would have sent us into the break even was narrowly missed going agonisingly inches wide of the post.
Cleethorpes started after the break at an impressive pace with a try from returning the kick off. Cleethorpes stayed focussed and were once again threatening the try line with good counter attacking and strong running. Ultimately, from a reset scrum on the Hykeham 5 yard line, Cleethorpes drove the ball over for the score. With two converted tries from the restart, Hykeham had a mountain to climb to get back in the game. Hykeham raised their game as the Cleethorpes pack evidently tired in the later stages of the match. Strong running from Andy Rush, Jamie Smith and Steve Fortune, saw the team break the gain line on several occasions. The barrage of crash balls and clean ball from the half backs, saw Dave Pepper bully his way over the try line for a deserved try. After a further Cleethorpes score, Hykeham heads did not go down, clearly shown by forcing a penalty try in the last play of the game. A quick thinking penalty saw Adam Yuill break through several tackles for Steve Quinlan to be denied a sure try from an illegal tackle by a player on the ground.
Although ultimately the win evaded Hykeham again, with Cleethorpes winning 30-22, the team came off the pitch pleased with their performance. And with good reason. With the forwards, who were clearly outsized, holding more than their own in the breakdowns and resets, and the backs who put together some great moves and posed a serious threat all game. The later being illustrated by Cleethorpes nominating full backMark Munton as Man of the Match. Hykeham will aim to build on this performance as they get back to business in the league against Creswell next Saturday. Finally, the team would also like to thank the supporters who turned up in good numbers again to cheer on the boys.
Team: Adrian Parke, Dave Matson, Andy Rush, Chris Groome, Steve Fortune, Adam McConnellwood, Jordan Beaumont, Jamie Smith, Nathan Bunn, Josh Dandy, Adam Stephenson, Steve Quinlan, Keith Jones,Danny Brown, Mark Munton (MoM). Subs (all used) Dave Pepper, Adam Yuill.