Hawks Women 17 vs Thurrock T-Birds 37
The Hawks ran out at Dry Leas in their new kit and with it brought a new Henley. Visitors Thurrock have been a supremacy in the league for many years, so the game was going to be anything but easy.
For the first time this season the Hawks looked switched on from the first whistle and dominated the contact against a well drilled and fiery Thurrock.
The Hawks were defending incredibly well with chop tackles being led by Ferguson, Sealey and Dudding.
It was the T-Birds who put points on the board first with a try from one of their ex internationals playing at 13 who ran the width of the pitch to score in the corner.
The Hawks did not let this bother them as they fought hard and built phases back into the T-birds half. The forwards carried well and set a clean platform for Leeds, playing 9 to send fast ball to the backs. Attacking into the 22, Dudding drew the defence and gave a perfectly time pass for Hearn (Sponsored by Loddon Brewery), back in the centre, to crash through and fight her way to the try line. Dudding (Sponsored by Seamus Jeffs) converted and the Hawks found themselves leading 7-5.
Thurrock were rattled and began to show it. They were being blown for offside, high tackles and off their feet, however they found themselves back in the Hawks 22. Once again their 13 got outside the Hawks defence and scored in the corner, conversion missed, 7-10.
From the restart Henley kept the T-Birds in their own half. Thurrock found themselves offside again, the penalty allowed the Hawks to kick for the corner and attack in the 22 again. Once again Thurrock found themselves in trouble and the referee had had enough, he went to his pocket and sin binned their second row for persistent fouls. With belief starting to set in, the Hawks wanted the try rather than settling for 3 points. Forward runners from Matthews, Van Der Grient and Balmer sucked in the defence. Leeds provided Dudding with quick ball who fed Copley who was sure in for the corner, only to be caught, but not before popping to Wheeler who crashed over the whitewash in the corner. The Hawks were once again in the lead 12-10.
The Hawks were still dominating in defence and stopping Thurrock in their tracks. The scrum was also going Henley's way as the pack were driving the T-Birds backwards and Ferguson stealing 4 or 5 against the head in the whole game. This gave the backs chance to run with the ball and get it wide to put Murray in corner, only to be held up.
A turnover scrum allowed Henley to play out of their 22, only to lose the ball in a rip for the T-Birds 13 to take her hat trick just before half time, 12-15.
After the half, the Hawks started well. The centre partnering of Hearn and Solowin (Sponsored by Total Construction) were nullifying the 13 and wings with big hits. Thurrock had to change their game plan and began hitting through the middle. They made ground and caught the Hawks by surprise scoring under the posts. 12-22.
The Hawks were still in the game but they seemed to be going through a lull patch. It marked the start of a Thurrock 3 try scoring spree.
Henley were camped in Thurrock's 22 after this but could not find a way though. Pressure was building as the Hawks wanted the final word. Another sin bin for Thurrock allowed Henley the chance, but mistakes were being made. Then another penalty 5 meters out allowed Leeds to tap and go and step through a startled T-Bird defence to touch down with the final try of the day. Final score 17-37.
Forward of the match went to Yaz Matthews for her excellent scrummaging and running lines, while back of the match went to the ever present Emma Leeds.
The girls travel to Richmond next week which is sure to be a vital match as both teams are sitting bottom of the table.
Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa: