Cinderford 34 - Henley Hawks 6
Henley Hawks started the New Year as they had ended the previous by playing a team, Cinderford, vying for promotion to Division 1, in second place to Chinnor. The challenge of this game was also evident as we had lost the reverse fixture 17-90 at Dry Leas in September.
The game was played in icy damp conditions with a brisque north wind down the length of the pitch, the Hawks had the advantage of this at kick-off. However late changes in the front row meant that they needed to take the most of this against a big physical pack.
The Hawks had territorial advantage for much of the first forty minutes. Our forwards aggressively kept Cinderford on the back foot. They were under pressure as indicated by the award of four penalties against them in the first fifteen minutes and indeed the Hawks took an early lead after just two minutes with a penalty from 30 metres from in front of the posts, converted by scrum-half George Jackson.
All photos by Steve Karpa
When Cinderford obtained possession the Hawks defence was firm and resilient but was turned over by handling errors which gave the opportunity for wings Alex Frame and Rueben Norville to use their pace to score a try each. Neither of these were converted. The home side were therefore 10-3 in the lead after 26 minutes.
The Hawks however were not able to create scoring opportunities apart from the pressure which resulted in the award of another penalty in a similar position to the one which had given them the early lead. Jackson again was cool in the execution of the resultant kick which made the score 10-6 in favour of Cinderford at half-time.
The second half gave Cinderford the advantage off the following wind which had strengthened to such a degree that any of our clearance kicks made little progress and at time threatened to land behind us. The Hawks were also at another disadvantage having lost the experienced loose head prop Bradley Cook after 18 minutes.
Cinderford, with the wind advantage, now began to exploit their dominance in the scrums with the Hawks having to struggle to heel the ball on their own put in. Nevertheless the game turned against us decisively when Kieran Ball, replacement for Cook, was given a yellow card as the Hawks had repeatedly transgressed in the set scrums.
Prior to this replacement prop Tim Brockett had added to Cinderfords lead with an unconverted try.
The effect on a tiring Hawks team took the odds clearly against them especially when there were un-contested scrums for ten minutes whilst the yellow card was in force the result was that we conceded tries by flanker Aaron Ryan (68 minutes), Frame (76), and fly-half Liam Hemming (78) the latter two converted by Hemming making the final score 34-6.
Given the adversities suffered by the Hawks in the game, and the last minute rush of tries, although they were not happy in defeat there was certainly some merit in our performance against a side, because of other results, are now top of the league.
15. Jack Robinson, 14. Xavier Andre (Iwan MaCrae 75), 13. Simon Perry (Adam Lubbock 54), 12. Liam O’Neill, 11. Sam Portland, 10. Alan Awcock, 9. George Jackson, 1. Brad Cook (Kierin Ball 18), 2. Tom Emery (Juan Wunder 75), 3. George Premitt, 4. Dave Clements, 5. Jake Albon (C), 6. Dave Hyde, 7. Scott White, 8. Tommy Haynes (Matthew Tibbatts 54)