Change of gear for 20 minutes and it's I's

A 20-minute spell proved the difference between Hull Ionians and Sedgley Park as the former ran out 29-18 victors in National League 2 North.

On this warm day in the East Riding with a great warm welcome from the home side the anticipation from both camps was of a close game in prospect. The grandstand was full and the overall crowd approached 400 in number.

National League 2 North results

Leicester Lions 33-19 Caldy

Preston Grasshoppers 19-20 Birmingham & Solihull

Chester 15-13 Ampthill & District

Harrogate 59-14 Stockport

Huddersfield 26-11 Hull

Hull Ionians 29-18 Sedgley Park

Luctonians 31-22 Broadstreet

Stourbridge 23-37 Otley

As would be expected Ionians went straight for Sedge and camped out in the Tigers 22 for the first opening 5 minutes. A very strong scrum by Tigers against the much publicised Ionians pack slowed Ionians.

Then it was Sedge deploying a good defence and gradually got their hands on the ball and found territory. The next 15 minutes Sedge dominated with really powerful running from Matt Lamprey, Ryan Parkinson and Dave Blackwell.

Sedgley were brimming with confidence and from 1 through to 15 showing great hands and a willingness to keep the ball alive and play with pace. Ionians were finding it difficult to cope with this brand of rugby and on countless occasions finding themselves accidentally or purposely offside.

There was an early glimpse of Tigers quick game when Jamie Harrison nearly went over only to have his foot in touch. However it was not long before back row power turned to points as a couple of big phases from the  Parkinson and Blackwell set quick ball up for the backs to exploit finding a very intelligent kick by Matt Riley to chip ahead for Richard Wainwright to chase and finish in the corner.

Tigers looked in control and by far the more confident of the two teams. Hymes and Ashcroft were proving a handful for the Ionians front row. This strength providing the platform for a dynamic back row to reap havoc.

A kick by Ionians was fielded by Sedgley but the return kick gave soft possession away and from the resulting counter attack Hull Ionians winger was very clinical and from the resulting driving maul prop Steve Johnson finished it off for a try.

More pressure by Sedge and with it comes mistakes and prizes in the shape of Steve Collins boot and three points. Sedge edged ahead 8-5.

As the game approached halftime another crafty kick ahead by Steve Collins found gasman Jamie Harrison to dot down out wide for try number two.

Half Time: Hull Ionians 5 - Sedgley Park 13

The second half started with a different Hull Ionians and coach Crockett had clearly had words. A missed Sedge penalty kick from in front of the posts and from that moment on it was all Ionians.

The 22 restart by Ionians resulted in a scrum on the half way line and for the first time in the game, the Ionians pack got a shove on and a penalty was awarded. Ionians pointed at the posts and up stepped the excellent James Ferguson to nail a stunning penalty.

Trying to run a counter attack Jamie Harrison was stopped dead in his tracks and from the break down, the ball appeared and Ionians scrum half Thomas reacted more quickly than Tiger’s McShane. Thomas very intelligently spotted the gap and put in a chip for his winger to win the foot chase with a Sedgley back rower. No contest try number two for Ionians which was converted.

For the first time in the game, Ionians showed greater composure and started to build phases which the Tigers struggled to defend. The Ionians pack who had found the first half torrid started to ruck and maul with greater conviction.

A yellow card for Sedgley's Rhys Davies allowed Ionians to further capitalise on their strong start to the second half. Camped on the try line, Ionians rumbled forward against the 14 men of Sedgley and managed to get the nod from the assistant referee for Johnson’s second try. In truth, it was a big call.

As the sides rang the changes, the Tigers continued to stick to their expansive game plan. A high risk strategy but with that the Tigers found themselves in the Ionians 22. As the Tigers moved to the try line a couple of Ionians infringements were penalised; no yellow cards despite being in the red zone. The resulting lineout for Sedgley was badly overthrown and Ionians relieved the pressure.

Back at the other end of the field the Ionians backs were putting pace on the ball but good work from the Tigers forwards saw a breakout through Juan Crous; only for a slow pass to be intercepted and Ionians to go under the post for the bonus point try.

The comeback by Ionians was complete and as Tigers brought on two young front rowers at the 75 minute mark, the Ionians pack caused massive problems. Despite the scrums being under pressure the Tigers continued to spin the ball wide. A very quick line out and Tigers did get a deserved third try as George Hymes went over in the last minute of the game.

Ionians second half display deservedly won them the game. The yellow card giving them the advantage they needed in such a tight game; against 14 men they were precise and controlled.

National League Rugby