Hamilton Hornets first XV sting Centaurs in stifling heat

The Hamilton Hornets first XV braved stifling heat on Saturday (July 15) to overcome Burlington Centaurs at their home pitch. The match kicked off shortly after 12:00 and it was evident from the start that Burlington had fielded a much stronger squad than when the two clubs met earlier in the season in Hamilton.

Good Burlington defence and several handling errors kept Hamilton from scoring early on. The first score came around the 12 minute mark of the first half. Hamilton had begun to exert pressure, winning a series of line outs and had been held up in goal by Burlington resulting in a 5 metre scrum to Burlington. Hamilton’s pack then forced an error by wheeling their opponents scrum. From the reset Hamilton scrum, John Tavares (scrum half), picked the ball from the back of the scrum and wiggled his way through a couple of tackles to score with a one-handed reach over the try line. Captain Peter Van Zyl (flanker) added the conversion.

Full credit to Burlington who put some good phases of play together following the restart and managed to capitalize on an error on the Hornets try line to jump on the loose ball. After 15 minutes the score was Hamilton 7 – Burlington 5 and it looked like the Hornets could be in for a close contest.

Hamilton then went through a short period of sloppy handling before a high tackle on Josh Mattiaci (winger) resulted in setting up an attacking line out 10 metres from the Burlington line. John Sanderson (hooker) took a quick ball from line out jumper Geordie McDougall (flanker) and dummied to two pods of crashing forwards before passing to Jamie Whan (fly half) who ran in under the posts for the try. Van Zyl made the conversion to extend the lead to 14 – 5.

A scary moment occurred on the 26 minute mark as Van Zyl collided at full pace with Dave Lawson (outside centre) as both players raced to get to a Burlington “up and under”. Luckily both players were only winded and were able to continue.

The Hamilton line out was working beautifully and on 31 minutes a quick ball to Tavares had him on the opposite side of the pitch in seconds before he was brought down. The Hornets backs rucked well and secured possession for a charging Chris Lawson (loose head prop) who went in from 20 metres out uncontested. PVZ again added the conversion.

The final score of the half came two minutes from time. Travis Lee (lock) made a good run in support of the ball carrier to receive the off-load and touch down for his first try of the afternoon. Van Zyl made it 4 for 4 with the conversion for a perfect first half.

Half Time: Hamilton 28 – Burlington 5

It didn’t take the Hornets long to get back on the score board in the 2nd half. Three minutes in, Tavares did well to clean up some messy ball at the back of a ruck. Running across field, Tavares picked out inside centre, Sean Corner, who weighted a nice kick in behind the Burlington full back. The bounce fell to a flying Clint Crowe (winger) who went over for the try. Peter Van Zyl picked up where he left off in the first half by making the conversion.

The next score was probably the try of the afternoon. It came from a restart when Travis Lee secured the kick off and passed to Sean Corner who hit a huge hole in the Burlington centres and charged well into the opponents half. Corner had two defenders left to beat and it looked like he might be stopped when he was joined by a screaming Van Zyl who had come from nowhere on an excellent supporting run. Van Zyl ran a switch behind Corner who made a tricky behind-the-back pass to PVZ that caught the last two Burlington defenders flat footed and entertained the spectators from both sides of the Bay. Van Zyl converted his try.

By this point the Burlington defence was beginning to tire and started to miss more and more tackles. The very next restart was taken by Geordie McDougall who off-loaded to a breaking John Tavares who ran the length of the field from his own 22 m line avoiding tackle after tackle to score. Peter Van Zyl’s perfect afternoon with the boot came to end as he finally missed a conversion from near touch.

With the game clearly won at 54 – 5, and with about 20 minutes until the final whistle, the Hornets made some substitutions. Junior fly half, Roger Pizarro, came on for Whan. Tom Zimmer replaced Dave Lawson at outside centre. James Housego replaced Jason Dobie in the 2nd row and Tom Edwards gave tight-head prop, Owen Clark, a rest.

New fly half, Pizarro, wasted little time getting on the score sheet, scoring under the posts from a ball that made it through at least half a dozen pairs of hands before finding his. PVZ converted the extra points.

This was followed by an uncharacteristic error at the line out. The Hornets secured possession but some poor handling in the back line saw the ball go loose in goal and a Burlington player did well to touch it down for the try.

The final Hornets’ try came with about 6 minutes to play in the game. The Hornets’ scrum continued to pressure the Burlington forwards, again wheeling their opposite pack. The subsequent Hamilton scrum resulted in a couple of quick phases before Travis Lee crossed the line for his 2nd and the 10th try of the contest. Peter Van Zyl made the conversion and the referee blew the final whistle.

Final Score: Hamilton 68 – Burlington 12