Hornsea undoubtedly produced their best display of the season in what was their final league game, disposing the league leaders Rotherham Phoenix by 26 points to 19.
Prior to the match, with a large touchline presence, a minute’s silence was observed in memory of former player and vice-president Dick Hobson, before a fitting match ensued.
It was the league leaders Rotherham who started strongly and following an early passage of play in the Hornsea 22 they drove over from close range to score. The conversion was successful to give them a 0-7 lead.
Hornsea hit back almost immediately, and following some good hands by the backs, Harry Crisp finished well to score, James Hill adding a well struck conversion to bring the scores level at 7-7.
Both sides were showing attacking intent with ball in hand, and it was Hornsea who got the next score on the 20-minute mark as Liam Tudor Bateman sliced through the Phoenix defence following a powerful break and offload by captain and man of the match Ed Webster. Hill again converted well: 14-7.
Hornsea were making the league leaders work hard, but as Phoenix moved into the Hornsea 22 on the half-hour mark, their pack drove over from close range. The try was converted to bring the scores level: 14-14.
With the clock ticking down towards half-time, Hornsea managed to take the lead through leading try scorer Andy Finch. The forwards drove hard into the Phoenix half and when the backs were then used some sublime handling by Thomas, Hill and Tudor Bateman put Finch away who ghosted past two defenders to score out wide: 19-14.
The second half opened with both sides trying to take a grip on the game but defences were on top with some ferocious tackling nullifying any would-be attacks.
Midway through the second half, Hornsea got the next all-important score to extend their lead and claim the four-try bonus point, when Andy Finch scored his second of the match. The Hornsea pack, who were putting in such a shift, won the ball on the halfway line. The backs were then given the ball and a jinking break by Tudor Bateman saw him through a gap – he then drew the last defender to feed Finch who raced over to score a fine try. Hill added the extras to give Hornsea a 12-point lead: 26-14.
Rotherham straight away showed why they are top of the league as they hit back almost immediately, scoring from close range, pulling the score back to 26- 19 to set up a tense finale.
For the final seven or eight minutes of the match Rotherham threw all they could at Hornsea, but they simply could not break through the resolute home defence. Every Hornsea player put their bodies on the line as they thwarted attack after attack.
The referee shouted last play with Rotherham moving up the field towards the Hornsea line, but one final effort from Hornsea saw them win the ball at the breakdown, with Mark Thomas kicking the ball off the field to end the match to the sound of jubilant cheers both on and off the pitch.
This truly was a fantastic all-round effort by the Hollismen to end off the league season, in which it looks like they will finish in a very creditable fifth place.
Speaking after the match, Hornsea captain Ed Webster was full of praise for his side. He said: “We knew we had to put in a performance today if we were going to challenge Rotherham, which is what the lads did.
“We gave everything, tackled all day long and scored some nice tries. I can’t give the lads enough credit for that display – we showed we can beat anyone on our day, which will give us great hope to take into next season, our centenary season.”
Tries: Finch (2), Tudor Bateman, Crisp Conversions: Hill (3)
Man of the match: Ed Webster