Bishop’s Stortford 27 Henley Hawks 17
The sides that are either end of Division 2 (South) met in gloomy wet conditions with rain anddrizzle falling through out and resulted in the game finishing in semi darkness without the benefit of flood lights. There was little doubt that for the first 60 minutes the Hawks were the better side. They deserved to lead at half-time 12 -10.
However they started the game in what has becomecustomary fashion by conceding a try in the first minutes. In their first attack in the Hawk’s territory Stortford developed a handling movement and when deep in the Hawk’s 22 put in a grubber kick which wing Ryan Hutler was able to latch onto before his opposite number Simon Perry to make the score 5-0 before thiswas increased to 7-0 with an excellent kick from close to touch by scrum-half Tom Banks .He also kicked a penalty after 18 minutes to give his side a 10-0 lead.
The Hawks thereafter showed good control of the slippery ball in hand and kept the home side in their own half by effective tackling. They were also getting the better of forward play in the set pieces and loose and soon began to show the recently forgotten skill of driving mauls. The backs supported these and centre Liam O’Neill was stopped just a metre from the try line .
However after continued pressure the Hawks drove over for hooker Tom Emery to score his second try in two games. This was not capitalised by scrum-half George Jackson from about 30 metres. Although the playing surface was very wet it did not cut up and sadly for the Hawks Jackson had not brought his kicking boots with him for the major points gatherer of the season, with 100 points in total, was surprisingly inaccurate thoughout the game. He was successful when flanker Tom Hall touched down ten minutes later.
The Hawks were certainly worth a 12-10 lead at half-time. They continued in the ascendency at the start of the second half when good control of scrum was taken advantage of by fly-half Tom Parton, who had kicked effectively throughout the game, with the ball in hand, whose neat grubber kick took the home defence by surprise and he ran though to touch down unmolested. Unfortunately, from a position near the post the conversion attempt was again off target .
At this stage of the game the Hawks looked as if they were going to ease ahead and league positions were going to account for little. Sadly for the Hawks that was not to be.
Leading 17-10 after 60 minutes, this was the turning point of the game when they conceded a penalty ten metres inside the Stortford half. This was kicked long with the resultant line out 25 metres from the Hawks line .Centre George Cullen from this fed replacement prop Seb Brownhill an inside pass who proceeded to run an unconverted try to put the home side now only 15-17 in arrears.
Unfortunately the Hawks misplaced kicks now began to be crucial for the Stortford side, now just two points adrift, who began to play with renewed confidence and it was then they started to use driving mauls to threaten the Hawks line. With just ten minutes of the game remaining they succeeded in driving their burly hooker Declan Caulfield over for a try ,converted by Banks, to regain the lead at 22-17.
The Hawks were now desperate to at least earn a bonus point as an award for being the better side for more than half of the game. None worked harder to do so than No. 8 David Hyde who magnificently stole a BS line out on one occasion just fifteen metres out. Sadly soon afterwards he suffered a shoulder injury which forced him to leave the field. In his absence the now more dominant home pack drove Caulfield over for a second try to deny the Hawks a bonus point which they deserved for their all round efforts which made it difficult to justify Stortford their high position in the league table.
Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa:
15. James Comben, 14. Simon Parry, 13. Alan Awcock, 12. Liam O’Neill, 11. Cameron Ives, 10. Tom Parton, 9. George Jackson, 1. Barnaby Abdale-Weir, 2. Tom Emery (Stuart Philpott 65), 3. James Hadfield (George Primett 34), 4. Dave Clements, 5. Jake Albon, 6. Tom Hall (Scott White 62, Tom Gardner 34 Tom Emery 75) , 7. Scott White (Tom Hall 62), 8. David Hyde (Scott White 72)