OLD Halesonians hit back following their defeat to fellow title contenders Nuneaton by slamming Leicestershire side Syston 43-3 to remain fourth in National League Three Midlands.
A bumper Wassell Grove crowd watched a Hales side that was back to their best after a stint of hard training and hard talking following the Nuneaton defeat.
The match was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Geoff Grant, a former player, member and lifetime stalwart of the club who passed away.
Scrum-half Nathan Jones proved the star turn for Hales, having his best game for the club before an ankle injury forced him out of the game.
By that stage, Hales were leading 26-3 having already secured the bonus point try.
Fly-half Steve Powell spotted a gap in Syston’s defence and stormed through for a try, before second row and former Hales Colt player Tom King was driven over for a second, both of which were converted by full-back Chris Hooper.
Next-to-bottom Syston responded with a drop goal before skipper Rich Taylor snapped up a third Hales try, which Hooper again improved upon.
Hooker Pete Fitzgerald sealed the bonus point try, while Simon Sabel, who’d replaced the injured Jones, threw an audacious dummy before being driven over and Hooper made it 33-3.
With five minutes remaining, Tom Dempsey split the Syston defence, which parted like the Red Sea, before the ball was fed to centre Andy Robinson to score.
Right on the final minute, Hales produced the try of the game, Sabel’s quick penalty resulting with Fitzgerald flying off on one of his trademark runs, crashing through flailing defenders on a 40-metre stampede to the line.
Hooper missed the following conversion, which proved to be the last kick of the game.
THIS Saturday, Hales hope to put the record straight when they visit Sandbach, the Cheshire side having beaten Hales at Wassell Grove earlier in the season.
Hales Second XV pulled off an excellent 29-15 success at Lichfield.
Full-back Dave Wakefield helped himself to a couple of tries, with Craig Jukes, Jake Harley-Yeadon and Dan Blake all breaching Lichfield’s try-line while Tom Harris kicked the remaining points. The Thirds’ game with Evesham was called off.