Henley Hawks Return to Winning Form

Henley Hawks 30pts Worthing 22pts

After five successive defeats Henley Hawks were worthy winners of a closely fought game against long time rivals Worthing Raiders at Dry Leas last Saturday. Each side scored three tries but the Hawks had the edge by means of a return  to kicking form of scrum-half George Jackson who was successful with every kick in this game whereas the previous week he could only convert one try out of three and missed two penalties.  He accumulated 17 points altogether through three conversion two penalties and a try. In contrast, Worthing’s kicker Matthew McLean had a success rate of 3:2 with two conversions and one penalty .

It would be wrong to judge this game purely as a  kicking contest on a cold wintry afternoon. Far from it as far as the Hawks were concerned . From the start they showed energy and enthusiasm which has not been in abundance in recent matches. It has to be recorded that the first minute of this game the home followers were concerned that the pattern of recent weeks of starting lethargically was to be repeated as they conceded a penalty in the first minute but from 35 metres Mclean gave a hint of failures to follow when he sent his kick wide.

The Hawks response was to take the game to the opposition with accurate running and handling by their backs and aggressive play in the loose by their forwards. This resulted in Raiders’ centre Finlay Coxon- Smith illegally stopping a Hawks attacking move in the Raiders 25 which presented Jackson with the opportunity to put the Hawks in the lead with a  penalty from an easy kicking position.  

The Raiders were now under pressure as theHawks used driving mauls to pin them down . Hawk’s No. 8,  David Hyde, exploited this when he grounded a try in the 21st minute which was converted by the in-form Jackson . Ten points in the lead Hawks were now full of confidence with the opportunity to put the visitors' backs to the wallUnfortunately in developing some promising handling movements, which threatened to breach the Raiders’ defence there were careless off loading in the centre which with the resultants turnovers let Worthing into the game.

Firstly  they got points on the board by means of a successful penalty by Mclean and then their backs created a try. Centre Kiba Richards a big strong runner, was difficult to hold. Although he was controlled he chased a cross kick which finished under the Hawks’ posts and used his strength to touch down which with the easy conversion levelled the scores at 1O-10. However the Hawks managed to sneakahead at half-time, 13-10, courtesy of a Jackson penalty.

The Hawks started the secondhalf strongly . With control ofpossession they surged forward down the left. Fly-half Tom Parton was put in possession and using his pace, with guile, swept past a half-a dozen Worthing defenders who were unable to  stop  him on his way to touching down,  more or less unmolested, a try which Jackson improved to give the Hawks a 20-10 lead.

However this was short live for the  Raiders immediately took play into the Hawks’ 22 and proceeded to outwit a rather sparse defence which centre Coxon-Smith brushed aside to score, which on this occasion was converted by McLean to narrowthe deficit to 17-20.

The Hawks, shaken by this reverse,  immediately took play to the edge of the Worthing 22 area. They appeared to be stymied there with no clear plan of attack, stuttering to proceed, when wing  Alan Awcock came into possession and seized the initiative to drop a goal from 35 metres  thus putting the Hawks 23-17ahead.

With restored confidence the Hawks now established themselves in the visitors' 22 . They then attempted to put themselves further ahead using driving mauls. During the course of the game they had resorted to this method of attack but a stubborn Raiders attempt had refused to yield. However on this occasion Jackson was able to support this tactic and when the defence wilted he spotted a gap to drive throughto touch down which with his conversion put the Hawks comfortably ahead, 30-17.

However, the Raiders were to live up to their name and  stormed to Hawks line where no. 8 Robert Smith drove over for an unconverted try. With the score at 30-22 , and just three minutes playing time left, Worthing were in no mood to surrender. They camped on the Hawks line who, under severe pressure,  testedreferee David Clarkson’s patience, who in quick timegave yellow cards to Alan Awcock and Stuart Philpott.

There ensued two lineouts just ten metres from the Hawks line both in favour of the Raiders. However the Hawks’  forwards rose to the occasion, held their line, and captured both throw-ins! The Hawks therefore survived to earn two valuable league points.

MoM: Henley Front Row

Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa: www.flickr.com/photos/steve_karpa/albums/72157676763875706

Henley Hawks:-
15.James Comben, 14.Alan Awcock,13. Tom Gardner (Connor Morrison 73), 12. Liam O’Neill, 11. Cameron Ives (James Stevenson-Wright 16), 10. Tom Parton, 9. George Jackson, 1. James Hadfield, 2 Tom Emery (Stuart Philpott 80) , Barnaby Abdale-Weir( George Primett 58 ), 4. Dave Clements,( Marcus Lowe 58), 5.Jacob Albon(Dave Clements 79), 6. Tom Hall , 7. Scott White 8, David Hide.