Henley Hawks completed their pre season fixtures on Thursday evening when they entertained the Ealing Trailfinders Academy at Dry Leas.
It was a good run out for the Hawks squad against a youthful and committed Ealing but the visitors were not the force that Ampthill were last week and the Hawks were able to find some continuity in their play, running in four tries in the first half.
The star of the show in the first half was scrum half Connor Murphy, who will be available for the Hawks in September before he departs for rugby in the USA. He dictated events with some masterful tactical kicking but the outstanding feature of his performance was the speed of his pass away from from the breakdown allowing the Hawks backs to show their skills and this they did, and with some slick handling at times produced some fluent and exciting moves.
The early exchanges were played at a great pace with full commitment from both sides but it was the Hawks who opened the scoring with a try from wing forward Jordan Scott. He finished off a good move involving both Henley props, Dave Manning and Ian Stock. Connor Murphy converted.
The Hawks dominated the game and put the visitors under immense pressure at times with some good forward driving, some good handling from the backs and the tactical nous of Murphy. Tom Hall, Tom Emery and Tommy Haynes were all prominent in the loose and the Hawks extended their lead with a pushover try from the forwards. Again Murphy converted.
The London side defended bravely and when they got the ball it was often in their own 22 and the pressure from the Hawks led to a series of mistakes allowing the Hawks to add two further tries before the break. Scott got his second after a series of forward drives, and then outside half Joe Butler made a decisive break and fed Dave Hyde who scampered over. Murphy converted both to give the Hawks a 28-0 lead at the break.
Both sides made changes for the second period and it was the visitors who scored first. Ealing, who had a side full of promising youngsters looked dangerous as they took the attack to the Hawks and their centre Yun Shun Luk cut through some weak home defence to score. Ciaran Poynter converted.
Henley gathered themselves quickly and Butler took a quick penalty and was caught just short of the Ealing posts. A try seemed certain but the ball was spilled.
With the game becoming more open, it was a good contest and Ealing’s youngsters began to get a bit more decent possession. The Hawks defence was tested but generally held firm.
Both sides showed their attacking intentions as the play went from end to end and prop Ian Stock eventually drove over for Henley’s fifth try. George Jackson converted.
Ealing replied with a well worked try from Rugely which again Poynter converted.
Henley’s No8 Matt Tibbatts completed the scoring with a try that Jackson converted.
This performance will give the Hawks some confidence for the season ahead and the final preparations will be made at training this week. All roads lead to Dry Leas on Saturday for the first league game and what promises to be a pulsating derby clash against local rivals, Redingensians Rams, kick off 3pm.