Cardiff Metropolitan University8pts Henley Hawks 8pts
This was a game dominated by the elements with a fierce gale blowing the length of the pitch in Cardiff. As a consequence both sides produced a scrappy game which was punctuated by some good work from the Henley pack. In particular the strong scrummaging with the front row of Stock, Cook and Manning dominating their opposite numbers.
Henley started brightly and threatened the students line on a number of occasions but often the final pass went adrift in the difficult conditions. This early pressure led to an early penalty conceded some 30 metres out in front of the Cardiff posts which Murphy dispatched with ease. With this early lead Henley should really have pushed on but the Cardiff midfield had other ideas and not only defended well but produced some threatening phases of play themselves.
The scores were levelled on the half hour when a simple penalty was conceded close to the line after a period of concerted effort by the Cardiff forwards. The score that took the students ahead was a rather fortunate one as an overthrown line out was picked up by a surprised student backrow who dived over to take the score to 3-8 at the end of the half.
The Henley lineout had functioned well in the gale force wind but the driving play lacked a little patience and cohesion at times. Jackson at fly half was kicking astutely and Murphy providing a consistent service.
The second half was almost a carbon copy of the first with neither side really putting any sustained control on the game and as a consequence scoring opportunities were rare. However after a period of sustained pressure playing into a gale force wind Henley were awarded a penalty which they kicked to the corner. This time the catch and drive was effective and skipper Albon was driven over wide out. Murphy’s well struck conversion into the teeth of the wind just went wide.
In the final ½ hour both sides emptied the bench and Henley produced a number of effective driving moves which were well defended. The last play saw Haynes unfortunately held up over the line which would have given the hawks a deserved victory.
All in all a useful hit out against a determined and skilful student side who had a number of players being watched carefully by the Pro rugby league in South Wales. It also meant that the full squad of 28 players all received useful game time as we move forward to the start of the league programme at home to Redingensians on September 2nd.