Hawks edged out by Tonbridge in close encounter

Tonbridge Juddians 20 Henley Hawks 14

The Hawks disappointing start to the season continued at Tonbridge where they went down to a six point defeat despite leading at half time. 

The pattern of the game continued in the same manner to their previous three games in that they played their best most competitive rugby in the first and last quarter of each game and once again fitness was not a problem.

They arrived to play on a fine dry day to defend wholeheartedly, tackling with a fervour to stop Tonbridge at all costs. They had most of the possession for the first 25 minutes and were encouraged by a smart break by scrum-half, George Jackson. However this turned out to be a rare occurrenceand was only repeated again in the last twenty minutes of the game.

Nevertheless, Alan Awcock up from full back was soon creating a chance to open the scoring in the left corner of TJ’s half when he had an opportunity to exploit an overlap but lost control of the ball. The home side, however, were desperately defending and in quick succession conceded two yellow cards through a scrum offence and a deliberate knock-on.

With only 13 men on the field, the Hawks soon took advantage to drive over from a line out through lock Dave Clements for Jackson to add the conversion.

However, the Hawks defence went into relapse which allowed Jon McMahon in for an unconverted try. With two extra players on the pitch, the Hawks immediately returned to the attack and created a three man overlap with some accurate handling for Awcock to run in for a try under the posts, again converted by Jackson.for the Hawks to lead 14-5 at half-time.

The Hawks, unfortunately, could not increase or hold on to this lead. They were plagued by poor kicking out of hand in defence suffering a number of kicks being charged down and bad tactical kicking which led to wing Will Ward racing in for a an unconverted try shortly after half-time to make the score 14-10 in favour of the Hawks.

The Hawks defence was further breached after 67 minutes when McMahon burst through some relaxed tackling for his second try. Prior to this, TJ’  had changed their place kicker with Nathan Holmes, who had helped to keep the Hawks in the lead by missing three comparatively straight forward conversions, being replaced by Liam Prescott who slotted a penalty after 49 minutes and in converting his side’s third try had put TJ’s in the lead 20-14 with twelve minutes to go.

It was then that the Hawks again put pressure on the home defence. Attempts to add a try from a driving maul failed but a good clean break by Hawks’ centre Liam’Neillpromised a match winning try under the posts but this found no support. The Hawks had to be disappointingly content with just a bonus point for a six point loss.

Henley Hawks

15. Alan Awcok (Murphy 61), 14. Xavier Andre, 13. Will Janes, 12. Liam O’Neill. 11. Jack Robinson, 10. Joe Butler, 9. George Jackson, 1. Brad Cook, (Hadfield 57) 2. Tom Emery, 3. Dave Manning, 4. Jake Albon, 5. Dave Clements (Kruzycki) Dave Hyde {Tibbatts 66), 7. Rob Bell, 8. Marcus Lowe

16. Jim Hadfield, 17.Scott White, 18. Michal Kruzycki, 19. Matthew Tibbatts, 22. Connor Murphy

Henley Scorers

Tries Clements26 mins, Awcock 33 mins Conversions Jackson 17 mins, 34 mins

Tonbridge Judddan Scorers

Tries McMahon 30, 67, Ward 46, Conversions Prescott 66 Penalties 67