Dockers maintain push for play-offs
HULL Dockers kept their National Conference Premier Division play-off ambitions alive with a thrilling 32-30 win over the Wath Brow Hornets at The Willows.
Dockers dominated the visitors in the first half, in which two tries from Karl Smirk helped them gain an 18-6 lead at the break.
When that lead was extended shortly after the re-start to 24-6 it looked as though they would be coasting to their fourth win in five games.
But three Hornets tries in a blistering 10-minute period set up a dramatic final quarter.
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With the scores locked at 30 apiece, with only a few minutes remaining, captain Chris Stephenson kept his cool to land a penalty goal, that proved the decisive score.
Coach Chris Kay was happy with the improved display from the previous week.
He said: "The attitude was totally different from the boys and I thought the end result was a fair one.
"They were a big side and when they get you on the back-foot they are always going to score some points.
"We hung in there and ground it out, but we have it all to do again next week at their place."
The Hornets opened the scoring through former Hull KR player Leroy Joe when he crashed in under the posts from two metres out.
Two tries in two minutes then gave the home side the lead.
Stephenson's high bomb was left to bounce and Ben Hardcastle was quickest to react.
The try scorer turned provider on the very next set, when Hardcastle sent Smirk in for his first of the afternoon. Stephenson landed both conversions.
Smirk got his second just before the break after some astute handling from Dockers saw the ball shift thorough several pairs of hands before Stephenson sent the scrum-half over.
Stephenson added the extras to give his side an 18-6 half-time lead.
The home side picked up where they left off after the restart, when a great piece of individual play from Anthony Tognola saw the second-rower re-gather his kick to score. Stephenson converted to put Dockers 24-6 in front.
The momentum then swung the Hornets' way after Joe's switch from hooker to stand-off caused the Dockers' defence a real array of problems.
Tries from Louis Marrow, Charlie Tomlinson and Scott Pink in quick succession, brought the Cumbrians level.
Nick Powley, Dockers' leading try scorer, showed a clean pair of heels to step around two defenders to retain their lead.
But Marrow crossed for his second to set up a tense final five minutes.
At 30-30 Stephenson's attempted drop-goal saw him taken out off the ball and the stand-off landed the resulting penalty.
Wath Brow's Jason Connery then had the chance to secure their third draw in three weeks in the final minute, but his penalty attempt sailed well wide and the final whistle blew to give Dockers the narrow 32-30 win.