Tense draw in the West Country

Old Redcliffians 25 Henley Hawks 25

Henley travelled to the West Country buoyed by their improved performance from the previous weekend. Old Redcliffians were the new opponents who had been promoted to the National leagues last year. The result was disappointing for Hawks supporters who would have expected this to be, on paper, a relatively straightforward assignment. However this league is already proving to be anything but predictable but this was a game Henley know they should have won given the possession they had. 

The game started brightly for the visitors as constant pressure nearly resulted in early scores as the forwards worked hard to breach the line. However the defence held firm and their only reward was a Connor Murphy penalty close to the posts.

The home side were now showing their true resilience as their big forwards started to make inroads into the Hawks defence and this caused a number of unforced errors and eventually the Henley line was breached after a series of punishing driving mauls, the try was unconverted but this had given Redcliffians just the lift they needed.

Henley responded well and eventually they got the all-important score through David Clements who worked tirelessly all afternoon to be driven over for a good continuity try. Murphy added the extras and at this point Henley should have pushed on to enhance their lead, but as in previous weeks the opposition were once again allowed to pin the hawks back inside their own 22 and an inevitable penalty resulted bringing the score to 10-8 in the visitors favour. There was however just enough time for Henley to gain the upper hand again as Murphy sent over another reasonably straight forward penalty. With the scoreline of 13-8 in their favour it looked as if the visitors would now push forward and secure victory.

However they were now playing up a significant slope and into the wind. Early pressure brought an excellent opportunity for Will Janes to score but sadly the final pass to Xavier Andre went astray and this visibly lifted the visitors.

Both of the Redcliffians tries in the second half came from deep positions as their big forwards penetrated the defence and punished severly some Henley errors. The see saw nature of the game continued as Redcliffians took their chance for a converted try after 50 minutes to take the score to 15-13 in their favour. They then added a simple penalty to stretch the lead to 5points.

Henley then showed their true mettle by taking the game to their opponents and scored a fine try through Tibbatts after constant pressure and good offloading from Bell and Jackson. The conversion went astray but with the score at 18-18 there was a tense finale in prospect. The visitors were first to score as a mix up in the Henley defence allowed a simple score which was converted and at 7 points adrift it looked as if the visitors were in for a shock defeat. To Henley’s great credit they mounted a blistering attack which Tibbatts again finished well being driven over the line by the pack and Jackson landed an excellent conversion. It was now all to play for at 25-25 and Henley launched wave after wave of attacks in a desperate attempt to secure the winning bonus point. 

To the great credit of the home side they held out superbly for a well-earned draw and moved them off the bottom of the table.

The lessons learned from this week about taking every opportunity and cutting out basic fundamental mistakes will be learned. There is no doubt about the potential of this Henley team, they will now be working hard to build some consistency into performance which will see them move up the table.

Henley: O Neill, (Burn 70minutes), Portland, Perry, Janes, Andre, Butler, Murphy (Jackson 35 mins), Cooke (Primett 75minutes), Emery, Manning, Albon(capt), Clements, Hyde (Tibbatts 55minutes) Bell, Lowe.