Henley Hawks 15pts - Wasps 10 pts
To say that the Hawks women had an unsettled and unfortunate start to the season is an understatement.
The women were fighting to find a new coach just weeks before preseason started, while trying to attract new players after a loss of some senior teammate moving on to premiership and other clubs at the end of the last season. Injuries had also been unkind to the women.
The girls luck was sure to change, and change it did. Through the form of Olivia Perry. Ex England international and wife to current Hawk. Olivia started lending a hand in training and added the structure and consistency the women were craving for. A couple of weeks later Henry Day; the women’s back coach from 3 season ago joined the coaching team adding to the strength and quality coaching.
Having built each week despite the scores not always reflecting the quality and passion the women have. This weekend saw the Hawks play their final league game against Wasps 2’s. Winning would result in the Hawks not finishing bottom of the table. Running out at Dry Leas the women were high in confidence and believed this win was theirs. Having only narrowly lost at the start of the season to Wasps 2’s, a valiant result considering the Hawks finished the game with only 13 players. This weekend the Hawks had a full squad even though some player were unavailable, clearly showing the strength the Hawks have built throughout the season.
The Hawks had a strong start with some fast-paced rugby, clearly, they meant business. Excellent handling allowed the Hawks to build up the pitch. Despite being turned over the women didn’t let this phase them and show that their defence was just as good as their attack. A break from Wasps winger stopped metres from the line with a solid cover tackle for Dudding. Unfortunately this hard work from the Hawks wasn’t quite enough as Wasps were first to score 5 -0.
Not letting the score phase them the Hawks got straight back into the game, running hard off the kick off, driving Wasps back forcing the errors. Having won the ball back, Hawks went blind off the scrum, some brilliant offloads from Leeds to Wheeler to McFarland who looked like she was clean in but frustratingly chased down and knocked the ball on the tackle before being able to get the pass away.
Receiving a penalty and opting for touch, the Hawks won a scrum from the lineout. Excellent scrum and platform for Wheeler to break off the back and score. 5-5
Half time 5-5
The Hawks now playing ‘home’ saw some solid running lines from Ferguson, Wysocki-Jones and Matthew allows the Hawks to gain field position. Great distribution from the back off the rucks from Leeds to McFarland who put Craig through a hole in the centres, getting the first score on the board for the second half 10 – 5.
Wasps came straight back but the Hawks defence was solid with some great hits and turn overs from Hearn and Solowin. Despite the efforts, Wasps scored in the corner 10 – 10.
Time slowly running out. Not letting this get in the way the Hawks rebuilt. A few penalties received and the Hawks opting from scrums as they had been unstoppable all game, continuing to put the pressure on the Hawks were unlucky not to get over the line but instead turned over by Wasps who cleared their line. Three minutes to go, Wasps scrum just inside the Wasps half. Yet again another solid scrum, Ferguson winning the ball allowed for Wheeler to pick off the back and broke the line for a 40m sprint for the line. 15-10
Two minutes to go, all Henley had to do was keep the ball. Received the ball from the kick off and picking and going from the ruck, time ticking away. Great efforts from Wasps saw them turn it over ship it wide but great pressure and defence once again from the Hawks forced the error. Full time whistle blown.
What a brilliant way to end the season.
Players player went to No.8 Wheeler for her excellent try to win the game. Coaches player went to captain Wysocki-Jones for solid defence and tackling.
Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa:
Matthews, Ferguson, Van Der Grient, Wysocki-Jones (Sponsored by Martin Bidlake-Corser), Timmins, Nash, Balmer, Wheeler, Leed, McFarland, Thompson, Dudding (Sponsored by Seamus Jeffs), Solowin (Sponsored by Total Constructions), Burger, Hearn (Sponsored by Loddon Brewery), Pruszkowski, Sealey, Barrett, Barclay-Klingle, Craig, Murray and Wilkie.