Hykeham look good whilst playing ugly.
North Hykeham's opponents Ollerton RFC made the journey east, with Hykeham keen to erase the poor performance in the reverse fixture last October, where the side failed to match up to Ollerton's physicality. With North Hykeham having ironed out a few kinks and put together a nice run of form in the interim three months, the side approached the game with much more self-assurance and a clear game plan.
Although the game at times appeared like a scrum factory, there were still plenty of quality phases as the backs continued their scintillating form of the last few weeks. Hykeham were smart in the territory game looking to pin Ollerton back in their own half, and attempt to pressure them into penalties or defensive kicks, and thus stop Ollerton from playing to their strengths. Hykeham began to rack up the tries in the first half however it didn't quite reflect the physical attrition in the middle of the pitch. However, rather than a criticism this is nothing but an endorsement of the growth of the team over the season, as it appears the side are finally learning to win ugly by capitalising on any mistakes and converting openings. The backs are in ruthless form at the minute, with Stark and Quinlan distributing ball efficiently for the backs to cut through with great lines, putting opposing centres under all kinds of pressure. Furthermore, fly-half Quinlan continued his vastly improved conversion rate; converting tries with aplomb from tricky angles into an unpredictable wind. Racking up those bonus 2pts consistently cannot be underestimated when it comes to trying to put distance on the scoreboard. Hykeham, through a combination of digging in and holding off some ugly scrums, and clinical finishing from the backs, went into half time 28-0 ahead.
As one would expect with such a lead, Hykeham struggled to continue with the intensity in the second half, and took their foot off the gas somewhat allowing Ollerton back into the game if not the scoreboard. Nevertheless, Hykeham were effective in returning to the territory game and gradually regained control of the game, and added a fifth try, effectively casting aspersions on a possible comeback. Ollerton did eventually convert a consolation try, which was fully deserved in terms of their effort and application for the entire eighty minutes, making the final score 33-7 to Hykeham. In fact, in a day of no show away teams in Midlands East 5, hats off to Ollerton for making the journey across the county with little to play for given their points deduction handicap, and in effect missing the international. In terms of man of the match for Hykeham, there were some great performances in the backfield but today was an extremely tough match for the forwards, digging out and holding onto possession. Therefore the man of the match goes to McConnell-Wood, coming into a rich vein of form in recent weeks, who took delight this afternoon in ringing a few Ollerton bells in the tackle.
Although the final score was a little flattering, Hykeham continue their winning streak and strong finish to the end of the season, winning their fourth game in a row. Next week, Hykeham travel to deepest Derbyshire to challenge Rolls Royce's grip on third spot, in the rescheduled fixture. The team are fully aware that next week will require a more fluent performance with Rolls Royce dominant in their own backyard. But Hykeham, whose performances continue at a high level, and with fierce competition for places between the first and second squads, will no doubt travel with a positive mindset determined to take home the points.
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