Taunton Titans 13-17 Henley Hawks
Henley produced arguably their best performance of the season as they beat a tough and uncompromising Taunton side in a thrilling encounter at the Commplus Stadium on Saturday. Before this game Taunton were lying in second place and were touted by many as possible promotion candidates. As a result, Henley move up to fourth in the league and look to build more momentum in the coming weeks.
With a very strong wind blowing across the pitch handling and kicking were going to be tough but the Hawks produced two pieces of excellent handling to score two excellent tries. As storm Callum blew the Hawks produced a very workmanlike performance. The scoreline was tight throughout the game but Henley produced the better chances and would have sealed the victory if Ryan O’Neill had been able to hold onto a difficult bouncing ball with the try line at his mercy. In the end, the centre playing his debut game had a good all-round performance.
The first score came after some seven minutes when turnover ball was worked right and some deft hands from Marcus Lowe and excellent footwork by George Wood saw Xavier Andre score under the posts with Roddy Giles adding the extras. This was just the start the visitors wanted playing slightly into the strong wind. Indeed, another half chance went begging as a long pass was nearly intercepted by the Taunton winger only to drop the ball, had it gone to hand George Wood may well have gone over in the corner.
In the end, the only reply was a Taunton penalty kicked by Gary Kingdom in front of the posts. With half time approaching Henley was again under pressure but a turnover at the line out meant Henley were able to go in 7-3 to the good.
Taunton took the lead briefly in the second half as their centre, Toby East was able to crash over following some sustained pressure on the Henley line. This was short lived as the Hawks built pressure once again for the ball to be moved wide to Marcus Lowe who strode in from twenty metres. Roddy Giles added the extras.
The game was finely poised and Taunton were once more pressurising the Henley line, but superb defence kept them out time and time again. However the inevitable eventually happened and numbers told as a strong surge by the home side flanker, Vakalutukali enabled him to touch down midway out. The conversion was missed and Henley now went into the final ten minutes one point ahead. However, the Hawks managed to put pressure on the Titans line and cleverly ran the clock down and even managed to kick a penalty with the final play of the match to come away with a well-deserved 17-13 victory.
Team: Robinson, Wood, O’Neill, Andre, Portland, Giles, Webb, Cook, Emery, Manning, Hyde, Albon, Lunnon, Lowe, Bradley
Replacements: Primett, Stobbs, Neal, Hall, MacDougall.