OLD Halesonians suffered a huge setback in their pursuit of the National League Division Three Midlands title this week when beaten at home 10-0 by league leaders Nuneaton.
Hales were guilty of too many handling errors in the wet conditions and team manager Simon Hussey admitted: “Nuneaton did the basics better than we did.
“The defeat is a blow, especially as we beat Nuneaton at their place earlier in the season, but we haven’t given up on the title and have to regroup. It just means the gap between the leaders gets wider”.
Nuns took the lead with a Joe Wilson penalty and Hales spurned the chance to level when Steve Powell missed a penalty shot at goal.
Hales were confident of turning matters around and spent periods of the second half camped in Nuns territory but were guilty of sloppy passing, dropped balls and unnecessary offloads that handed Nuns easy possession.
Driving runs from Pete Fitzgerald, Tom Jordan and Tom Dempsey failed to produce any reward Another chance to put points on the board went begging when Hales were handed another penalty opportunity inside Nuns 22.
Instead of kicking for a lineout and the possibility of a resulting driving maul which could have produced a try-scoring situation, Powell mis-kicked and fired into the dead ball area, gifting Nuns possession from a powerful attacking option.
Hales brought on new recruit Cliff Tompkinson who came in at prop and helped to stabilise the scrum.
But he couldn’t prevent Nuns from working their way downfield where they forced a penalty try and Wilson duly kicked the extras to put his side 10-0 ahead.
An injury to centre Carl Robinson didn’t help the cause as Hales struggled to keep the ball in the closing stages.
Hales host next-to-bottom Syston at Wassell Grove this Saturday and Hussey added: “There can be no room for complacency as there are no easy games at this level”.
The second XV staged a recovery to claim an excellent 18-10 success at local rivals Bromsgrove.
Tries from Jack Manners, Tom Lewis and Alex Church plus a Sam Vaughan penalty did the trick, after Bromsgrove had initially built a 10-0 lead thanks to a converted penalty try and penalty.