London Irish Wild Geese 17-24 Henley Hawks
Despite the gap in league positions between the two clubs with the Hawks in 7th and the Wild Geese 5th from bottom, the Hawks approached this game with caution bearing in mind that they had been turned over 41-35 in the corresponding fixture towards the end of last season.
The Hawks dominated the game from the start and apart from a brief spell in the Hawks 22 immediately after kick off, the game was played in the Irish half. Henley attacked continuously with the ball in hand with swift, accurate and well supported passing movements never putting the ball to boot.
They were rewarded after nine minutes by an unconverted try after forward pressure enabled No.8 Marcus Lowe to cross the line. The Hawks continued to dominate and although they were slow to add to their score they were unlucky on two occasions to not be awarded tries when referee Louis Biggs, who appeared to be unsighted judged two touch downs to be held up.
However, the continued pressure led to a try by strong running Simon Perry after 22 minutes, converted by George Jackson to bring the score to 12-0. The Hawks continued dominance had it’s further reward when in similar fashion, Perry again forced his way over the line in the 38th minute, and with a good conversion by scrum-half Jackson made the score at half-time 19-0.
On occasions this season the Hawks have been guilty of being slow out of the blocks after the break. They did start the second half with out centre Liam O’Neill, who had suffered a leg injury which resulted in him not taking further part in the game and the Hawks were further handicapped when new signing, prop Kieran Ball, was not able continue after half-time having fractured his thumb.
Wild Geese's top try scorer, wing George Owen, was quick to take advantage of the Hawks’ misfortune when he ran through a disorganised defence to touch down a unconverted try to open the Wild Geese scoring and reduce the deficit to 5-19 after 43 minutes.
Worse was to follow for the Hawks when the Geese's other leading try scorer, Reon Joseph was put in possession to also cross for Seers to convert and close the gap to 19-12 after 52 minutes.
The Hawks’ tactic was to stifle these runners by denying the home side as much possession as possible. This started to have an effect. The pack pressed forward and earned a penalty on the Irish 22, with a line out 20 metres from the Irish line they summoned the energy to put in their best driving maul of the game. With the Geese in retreat they drove over the white wash and the determined Tom Haynes drove through making the score 24-12 with fifteen minute to play.
The Hawks lost another player through injury with the stalwart Jim Hadfield also forced to leave the field through injury. A third Wild Geese try minutes from the end pulled the score back within 7 points, however, the Hawks were now able to tie up the home side up until the final whistle securing another five league points and move up to fifth position in the league.
This Saturday sees the Hawks entertain local rivals, Chinnor. Kick-off at Dry Leas is 3pm.
15.Jack Robinson. 14.Xavier Andre, 13.Liam O’Neill (31st Iwan MaCrae), 12.Simon Perry, 11.Sam Portland, 10.Joe Butler, 9.George Jackson, 1.Kieran Ball (40th Jim Hadfield, 77th White), 2.Tom Emery, 3.George Primett, 4.Dave Clements, 5.Jake Albon (capt), 6.David Hyde, 7.Tom Haynes (60th Matthew Tibbatts), 8. Marcus Lowe ( 60th Tom Haynes)