18 March 2023 Colts Game Report: Derby 39-24 Hinckley

After what has seemed like forever without a fixture due a combination bad weather and teams that would rather concede than play, Derby were very grateful that visitors Hinckley took up the challenge at short notice.

Without the injured holy trinity of Charlish, Pickering and Cook in the backs and the sadly retired number 8 Karl Morse, how would Derby fare? As it turned out rather well, as Derby with their customary storming finish eventually ran out 39-24 winners in another thoroughly entertaining game at Haslam’s Lane.

Unusually for Derby they were quickly into their stride and dominated possession and territory in the opening exchanges but it took 10 minutes for the opening score to arrive and when it did it was from an unusual source.

Hinkley, who endured a miserable time at the lineout all afternoon (with spring-heeled hooker Andrew Harriott stealing several throws on his own) overthrew their first lineout. Much to his surprise it was one of the other partners representing the front-row law firm that is Hinks Harriott & Warrilow-Mcginn who caught the ball and a grateful Ivan Warrilow-McGinn
scooted over from 5 metres to score.
Conversion missed Derby set about increasing their lead and launched a 15-phase attack the highlight being a neat combination of offloads between Wharam Murdock and Archie Partridge. Hinckley though were absolutely resolute in their defence and held firm, but after clearing their lines Derby came again and eventually centre Archie Murdock was able to muscle his way over from short range. Fred Sutton added the extras for a 12-0 lead.
Next, nearly man flanker Will Perry was put through a hole, bore down on the fullback composed himself before veering to his right hitting the gas and doing what he does best….. nearly making it !! Caught by the cover he cleverly offloaded to the supporting Sam Smith who ruined his 100 percent record of scoring from 3 metres out by knocking the ball on.
No matter, hooker Andrew Harriott showed them how to do it with another trademark 40-metre score to make the score 17-0. Sutton converted 19-0.
From the kick-off sub Lexi Valock-Hanley with his first touch burst through the Hinckley defence and made it all the way to 22m line before being brought down by the opposing fullback.

Derby were now in complete control and from a breakdown scrum half Jack Dickens was able to dummy into a gap in the Hinckley defence and then hook a one-handed offload back inside to number 8 Alex Clarke who showed great pace to finish under the posts from 25 metres out. Sutton converted to make it 26-0.

Hinckley then scored an excellent try of their own when Derby’s scrambling cover defence over committed allowing Hinkley’s number 22 to produce a delicious inside swerve to wrong-foot several defenders to score a converted try for a 26-7 lead for Derby at the break.

In the second half, Hinckley stormed back into the contest with 3 quick tries of their own. First fullback Joe Bennett who brilliantly closed down a three on one in the first half, got caught in backfield returning a kick and Hinckley turned the ball over to score for 26-12. Then after they had scored again to close to 26-17 Bennett was given a yellow card for high tackle that could easily have been red. Hinckley’s frustration was made worse by the fact they in the resulting passage of play they dropped the ball over the line in the act of scoring. Undaunted, they broke off from a 5-metre lineout to score a converted try for 26-24.

Derby were rocking and looked visibly tired.

Then came the pivotal moment of the match. Hinckley were in the ascendancy and felt that the game was theirs for the taking. With a big overlap, they ran the ball from their own 22. Fred Sutton who had perhaps been slow to react in a similar situation in the first half now reacted quickly to close off the outside space. So much so that the Hinckley centre, unaware of Sutton’s positioning instead of putting his winger away threw a 6-inch pass straight into the Derby wingers chest. Somehow the ball stuck, the Hinckley centre fell over and a surprised Sutton was able to stroll over for a try to make it 31-24 to Derby.

Derby were completely revitalised and seconds after requesting to be substituted the ‘tired’ Archie Murdock was put away down the right wing where he found the energy to sprint 50m to outpace three Hinckley defenders for a 31-24 lead.

To compound Hinckley’s misery Derby scored an almost identical try courtesy of Alex Clarke who threw in a crunching hand-off for good measure as he galloped over for his second try of the match.

The final score: 39-24 to Derby.

I’m sure that after Hinckley have gotten over their disappointment they will agree that this was a fantastically hard-fought game that was a credit to both teams. Judging by the players that they had on the sidelines they may have rested some players for competitive games down the line. If so we look forward to a rematch soon. Either way, it was good to see two teams with such good numbers when lots of clubs are struggling to put out teams week on week.

Ps. Comedy moment of the day was Toby Hinks selling an outrageous dummy, holding the ball by it’s point in one hand to completely goose Sid Perrot and score down the wing in the warmup game of touch. You can’t buy moments like that…although Sid apparently did and he’s got the ticket to prove it !!! Hold on to that ticket Sid, it gets you a podium spot with Pez and Fred.

Hinckley kindly shared video footage of the game, enjoy.