CHELTENHAM 35 - 20 HENLEY
On the road for the second week running, the Hawks travelled to Cheltenham to with confidence off the back of last weeks excellent 19-0 victory at Plymouth.
Cheltenham put on early pressure from the kick off and the Hawks found themselves defending their line. Cheltenham used hard runners sucking in the Henley defence and good hands down the line saw them over the white wash in the corner. Try converted and the home side lead 7-0.
The Hawks didn't let this phase them and they worked back into the Cheltenham half with strong carries from Matthews, Wysocki-Jones and Balmer making yards every time. With a switch of play Bliss fed a well timed pass to Wheeler crashed over the line. Humphrey's slotted over from out wide to bring the score line level.
Cheltenham were next to score with a few good phases of play, they earned the right to go wide and the winger ran around the Henley defence to just be caught short of the line. The Tigers recycled the ball quickly and scored in the corner. 14-7.
The Hawks hit back yet again kicking deep into the Tigers half. They managed to maintain Cheltenham and win the ball back. The Hawks were swinging the ball from touch line to touch line but could not find a way through the home side's defence. However a high tackle gave Henley the opportunity for 3 points in front of the posts. Humphrey's safely added the points. 14-10.
With still plenty of time remaining in the first half both sides threatened each other's defence. Big hits being being made by Sealey, Collins and Simpson. Bliss and Hearn were controlling the attack nicely and both kicking for territory well, but it was Cheltenham's full back who gathered the ball and seemed to run in untouched under the posts on the stroke of half time. 21-10.
The Hawks came out fighting in the second half. The kickoff was chased down hard by replacement Allen who made consecutive tackles which allowed the forwards to counter ruck and turn the ball over. The Hawks had the ball for a number of phases and awarded a handful of penalties but could not find a way through a tough Tigers defence. An attacking scrum allowed Bliss to run blind, draw two defenders and deliver a perfectly timed pass to Humphrey's to run in in the corner. Conversion narrowly missed, 21-15.
The Hawks gathered the ball well from the restart and worked their way back into the opposition half. However, a knock on resulted in a scrum where the Cheltenham no.8 was able to pick and go down the blind side and run almost the length of the pitch only to be stopped by Thompson. A quick recycle allowed the Tigers to run in under the sticks. 28-15.
After an awful restart not making it 10, the home team opted for the scrum and once again the no.8 was allowed too much space to run, good support meant the Tigers ran in again to make the score 35-15 in a matter of minutes.
The Hawks knew they'd made mistakes so were determined to make up for it and fight for the losing bonus point. They had all the territory and ball. A well executed line out 5metres out allowed Wysocki-Jones to just fall short of the white wash. Barclay-Klingle carried well but again was stopped before the line. The referee awarded a yellow card to the Cheltenham flanker for a series of infringements of hands in the ruck. After some good patience Hearn was able to put Humphrey's in for her second of the day in the corner. 35-20.
Henley had secured the losing bonus point and all the had to do was play out the half. The drift defence was impeccable in the last quarter and Cheltenham could not get out of their half. The minutes we're running down and the Hawks looked in control.
Cheltenham had one last chance to rob the Hawks of their bonus point however Hearn made a fantastic cover tackle which allowed Solowin to steal the ball, which she had been doing all afternoon well at the breakdown. Henley in possession of the ball just had to put the ball into touch to finish the game.
Players' player went to prop Yaz Matthews for her exceptional carrying and scrummaging and coaches player when to Ann-Marie Solowin for her dangerous attack and reliable defence.
The Hawks host old rivals Trojans next week for their first home game of the season, KO 2pm