HENLEY HAWKS 17 CINDERFORD 90
Tries: Burn 61, Emery 80
Conversions: Murphy 61, 80
Penalties: Murphy 29
Tries: Taylor 16, Little 24, 40, Lane 27, 69, 72, Hone 34, Hemming 43, 54, Norville 47,76, Barbarinsa 56, Moffat 63, Broady 80
Conversions: Moffat 24,27,34,40,43,47,54,56,72,80
Star Man: Kai Little (Cinderford)
Referee: Jack Lewers
Halftime scoreline: Henley 3 Cinderford 33
By Nick Pitson
It was a day to forget at Dry Leas on Saturday as visiting Cinderford ran in 14 tries and with it dealt a 90-17 drubbing to the Hawks, one of the heaviest ever league defeats in Henley’s history.
Even the visiting supporters were surprised at the margin of their victory, but they were following a side who were well organised and far superior in skill, speed and strength. In contrast, the Hawks seemed to have learned little from their defeat at Chinnor last week. Their defence was ripped apart on numerous occasions and the tackling, such a strong part of their game in recent seasons was at times non-existent.
But for all Henley’s problems, it must be Cinderford who are applauded for a highly impressive performance that will rightly see them installed as one of the favourites for the league title.
Early on, the Hawks gained parity with their visitors and started brightly and had they taken an early overlap opportunity, things may have been a little different. Tom Hall and Dave Hyde were prominent for the Hawks but Cinderford were well organised and snuffed out any Henley chances.
It took the visitors a quarter of an hour to register their first score, a driving maul finished by hooker Nathan Taylor. Full back James Moffat kicked the first of his twelve conversions.
The visitors began to look the more dangerous side as Henley struggled to contain the men from the Forest of Dean and a loose kick from the Hawks was collected by Kai Little who ran back through some weak tackling to score his sides second try.
The Hawks can justifiable feel aggrieved with Cinderford’s next attack when the visitors winger appeared to drop the ball following a Connor Murphy box kick. The Hawks stopped but the referee adjudged the ball to have gone backwards and Little again broke clear to allow Matt Lane to cross for an easy try.
Henley got on the scoreboard with a Connor Murphy penalty but the visitors were now looking threatening at every opportunityand ran in two more tries before the break. Number 8 Harry Hone finished off a series of drives before a loose pass in a Hawks attack allowed Little to hack the ball clear, run 60m and show good skill to control the ball and touchdown. Cinderford led 33-3 at the break.
Henley have produced two good second halves so far this season but any thoughts of a revival here were not forthcoming. The Hawks dropped the ball from a forward drive straightaway and from the resulting scrum, Taylor and Hone made the hard yards before Liam Hemming ghosted his way through the Hawks defence to score.
The Henley backs, although having a few chances, in contrast looked laboured and lacked any real threat or penetration. Weak defence then allowed three more Cinderford tries from Norville, Hemming (again) and Barbarinsa.
The visitors then appeared to have their own lapse in concentration when Hawks Connor Murray took a quick line out just inside his own half and fed winger Harry Burn who raced 60m to score under the posts. Murphy converted.
Cinderford replied immediately with a try from full back Moffat.
The last 10 minutes just compounded things for the Hawks as their defence fell apart and Cinderford ran in four more tries. The best try of the game was finished by Lane following some excellent passing and support play before further tries fromLane (again), Norville and Broady added to the Hawks despair.
It is difficult to find many positives after such a heavy defeat, but the Hawks forwards kept going and they had the last word when a strong drive by Dave Clements set up hooker Tom Emery who crashed over for try in the last play of the game. Connor Murphy converted.
Cinderford are now many people’s favourites to challenge for the league title but it was a sorry day for the Hawks, one of the worst in their league history. There will be a lot of soul searching in training this week but they must pick themselves up and prepare for the visit to Kent next week to face one of the leagues newly promoted sides, Tonbridge Juddians who themselves scored a good victory at Clifton on Saturday.
15 George Jackson, 14 Harry Burn, 13 Tom Gardner, 12 Alan Awcock, 11 Xavier Andre, 10 Joe Butler, 9 Connor Murphy
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Jim Hadfield, 4 Jake Albon, 5 Dave Clements, 6 Dave Hyde, 7 Tom Hall, 8 Matt Tibbatts
16 George Primett (for Hadfield) 46 mins
17 Scott White (for Hall). 51 mins
18 Michal Kruzycki (for Clements) 58 mins
19 Marcus Lowe (for Hyde). 58 mins
20 Adam Lubbock (for Andre). 41 mins
Match Photos courtesy of Steve Karpa;