Familiar outcome for Derby Rugby Club but coach is encouraged by display against Hinckley
HEAD coach Roxy Fearon believes he has plenty to be positive about following Derby's 24-6 home defeat to Hinckley.
Derby went unrewarded for their efforts as they suffered a 17th consecutive National League Three Midlands defeat at Haslams Lane on Saturday.
But they were far from outplayed against sixth-placed Hinckley, who only sealed victory with two late tries.
"The boys were gutted, because they felt they could have got something out of the game," said Fearon.
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"But I was happy with the performance and I can definitely see signs of improvement.
"We need to work on our scrum and we need to look after the ball more, because every time we make a mistake, the opposition score.
"The reality was that we made four mistakes and they scored four tries. They didn't really create a lot.
"There is a lot to be positive about, though.
"The lads are fitter and are getting used to the new regime.
"We've got a more settled squad now and players are pushing for positions.
"People are putting their bodies on the line for the team and they deserve a little bit of luck at some point.
"All the way through the game, there was a feeling we could get something.
"We need to back ourselves, be brave and be a bit cooler under pressure.
"Their coach said it was a much better performance from us than the one at their place earlier in the season.
"They came off knowing they were lucky to score four tries. It was a more consistent all-round performance from us."
Derby made two changes to their selected side, with Jon Lewis replacing Todd Bullions in the back row and Colts prop Ashley Campbell added to the bench in place of Nick Brocklehurst.
The defences were on top for the opening half an hour before Hinckley broke the deadlock with two tries from Devon Constant.
Mitchell Culpin converted both scores to put the visitors 14-0 up at the interval.
Ryan Milton came on for the injured Ross Atherton at half-time and Derby opened their account 10 minutes after the restart, through a Matt Down penalty.
An injury to Ben Coombes saw Campbell brought on for his first-team debut and, soon afterwards, Eldon Atherton replaced Adam Wilson.
Derby lost Owen West to the sin bin, while Constant was yellow-carded for Hinckley at the same time.
Another Down penalty after 71 minutes reduced the deficit to 14-6 and give the home side hope.
However, scrum half Kris McFedries sneaked around the blind side of the advancing Hinckley maul twice in the final eight minutes to end Derby's challenge and secure a bonus point.
Fearon added: "Owen West was upset because he felt he had let the team down when he got sin-binned.
"But in all honesty, it was something and nothing.
"All he did was try to get the ball back from a spectator who was holding on to it.
"Their guy got a yellow card for throwing a punch but I thought Owen was unlucky with his.
"We were well in the game at that point and we created a couple of opportunities but couldn't take them.
"They had a very good winger (Constant) and scrum half (McFedries), who scored two tries each.
"They are quality players and were the difference between the sides in the end."