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Hales Keep Promotion Hopes Alive

Old Halesonians 13 - 5 Peterborough Lions

Last Updated: Feb 11, 2016 10:27pm
Hagley, Bromsgrove
By Mark Jackson
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Hales were in positive but tentative mood in preparation for this rearranged home fixture. A pitch inspection by both sides and the referee was touch and go but the first team pitch was deemed playable. 

Hales had driving wind and rain at their backs in the first half and soon took advantage after scrum pressure. The big visiting side were obviously looking to use their size in this rain and wind driven exchange. 

There was early pressure by Hales with the backs and forwards combining well through scrum half Dave Hadkiss and fly half Oli Rayner. The return of full back Chris Hooper seemed to steady the side with intelligent kicks to the touch to make ground.  

A set scrum in the visitors 22 saw a power drive led by Hales front row Rob Butler, Hooker Sam Jones and skipper Rich Taylor, against a bigger front three. Peterborough were forced to wheel the scrum and the referee awarded a penalty try, Hooper converted to lead 7 - 0. 

Peterborough's came back  with strong forward play supported by the backs but the Hales defence was ferocious with Carl Robinson, Ben Barkley solid in the centres and back row Tom Jordan, Jay Martin and Steve Leach putting in some telling tackles to keep the visitors out. 

The terrible weather conditions didn't help handling, both sides should be congratulated for running the ball on many occasions. Max Macfarlane again excelled for Hales and having gathered a ball set off on a 60 metre run, evading tackles as he reached the visitors 22, he was eventually taken to the ground. 

The visitors were later penalised for infringement, again under pressure from the Hales pack. Hooper took the penalty from some 40 metres wide out. Despite the driving wind and rain he slotted the kick brilliantly to lead 10. - 0 at half time. 

The half time break gave some respite with changed shirts for the home team. The rain continued as the  crowd bundled together in the stand to share some protection. It was Peterborough who now came out with a forward dominating game. 

Constant driving and rucking by the visitors severely tested hales defence.  Second row Loz Breese had to leave the field with a neck injury and was replaced by Owen Jones, Hales continued to defend. From here Hales had to survive a series of 5 metre scrums but managed to keep Peterborough out. 

Hales Prop Butler was replaced by Cliff Tomkinson at loose head, he stood strong and steadied the ship. Scrum and ruck continued but Hales would not give up. Owen Jones was injured and  left the field forcing Barkley into the pack and Jamie Keen coming into the backs and no replacements left. 

The visitors seemed destined to score but could not overpower the Hales defence. Two minutes from time from another ruck close to the Hales line, the visiting scrum half kicked ahead for the wing to score a well worked try, the conversion failed 10 - 5. This was now a nail biting finish with the visitors confident.  

From the kick off Hales took the game back to Peterborough with skipper Taylor and Leach leading  from the front. More pressure in the dying minute saw the visitors penalised in front of the posts 30 metres out. Hooper converted for the final score with Hales coming out as worthy winners 13 - 5. 

Gary Cox, Director of Rugby said after the game, "This was never going to be a classic open running game in these conditions. The lads in defence were excellent to a man and have kept us in the hunt for the play offs" 

Old Hales travel to Sutton Coldfield this Saturday for the next league fixture. Kick off 2.15

PHOTO: FILE PIC

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