Barnstaple 31pts Henley Hawks 24 pts
This game was played in appalling heavy rain anddrizzle which did not relent for the whole game. Yet the game started with a try worthy of dry conditions thanks to out standing individual effortby Hawks\’ fly-half Joe Butler. He staggeredthe home side when he picked up a lose ball near the Hawks 22 to run through a static Barum defence to touch down mid-way between the posts and the lefttouch line andto complete the score with an excellent conversion.
The Hawks forwards made every effort to cash in on this astonishing start and pressed hard but failed to do so for lack of cohesion as they drove up field in to the hosts territory failing to support the ball carriers. Barum having caught their breath retaliated and once in the Hawks 22 combined well against some inconclusive tackling for full back Will Topps to score near the posts for scrum-half Jordan Petherbridge , a reliable place kicker who scored 16 points from four conversions, a penalty and a try during the course of the game, to add two points toequalise the scores , and then caught the Hawks on the hop when he ran through to touch down near the posts and convert to put his side 14-7 in the lead. The Hawks defence was looking shaky at this stage of the game.
However they came more into the match as half-time approached and were the next to score whem hooker Start Philpott, whose reliable throwing inat the line outs had been their best source of possession from set pieces, was driven over for an on converted try to make the score 14-12. Before the break the home side consolidated their lead at 17-12 with a penalty by Petherbridge.
As in the first half the Hawks startedthe better side and immediately took the lead when lock Jake Albon was driven
over for a try which was majorised by an excellent conversion by Butler to put the Hawks 19-17 in the lead. However Barnstaole, driven on by the vociferous crowd, reminiscent of the famous shed at KINGSHOLM ,GLOUCESTER, retaliated when fly-half Steve Perry kicked through under the posts for centre Jake Murphy to beat the Hawks defence to the touch down to put Barum in the league 24 19 with the conversion by Luke Berry who had now taken over kicking duties. .
The Hawks were also put into a poor defensive situation with the sending off with a yellow card of No. 6, the influential Tom Hall. This allowed number 8 NatBayet to storm over for a try which Berry converted to give the hosts a 31-19 lead, the biggest they had enjoyed in the game.
The Hawks, without the benefit of support of any significant numbers, which could be said almost to amount to an additionladditional player which Barum enjoyed. They then amounted pressure on the home side’s line to such an extentthat No. 7 Trae Gosling transgressed to be givena yellow card.
With a man advantage the Hawks now launched a sustained attack to gain a fourth try and earn a valuable bonus point. This amounted to driving maul after maul . To put the maximum pressure on the home the defence most of the Hawks backs were added to the maul so that the result was not dissimilar to the Eton Wall Game which also recognised that the ground underfoot was so heavy and stodgy, as had curtailedbacks movements in the course of the game, that this was the only method of crossing the Barnstaple line. They did so in the last minute of the game assisted by the issue of a yellow care to Barum No. 7 Trae Gosling at that moment with young prop Zaki Chamnaoiu scoring this second try of the season.
The Hawks persistence was thus rewarded and two bonus points made it possible for them to retain eleventhplace in the league table.
Match photos by Steve Karpa: www.flickr.com/photos/steve_karpa/albums/72157673815931553
15. James Comben, 14. Xavier Andre.13. Tom Gardner, 12.Dave Hankinson,11. Simon Perry, 10. Joe Butler, 9. James Stevenson -Wright, 1. James Hadfield, 2. Stuart Philpott ( Tom Emery 40), 3. Zaki Chamnaoui ( Philpott 64-70) , 4 Dave Clements (Capt.), 5. Jacob Albon, 6. David Hyde), 7. Tom Hall ( Connor Morrison 66), 8. Marcus Lowe ( Tommy Haynes 64)