HENLEY HAWKS 31-22 WORTHING RAIDERS
By Nick Pitson
Henley Hawks made it four wins on the bounce with a bonus point victory over plucky Worthing Raiders at Dry Leas on Saturday.
The Hawks ran out comfortable 31-22 winners, and with Redruth losing to London Irish Wild Geese, now find themselves up to third position in the league table. The win was set up by a brilliant performance by the Henley forwards, who dominated throughout the game, particularly at the scrum and in the loose exchanges, making Worthing defend for long periods. That said, the men from Sussex played their part in the game, and their backs looked sharper and more threatening at times.
In excellent sunny conditions, the game was played at a tremendous pace early on but a lack of composure lead to a number of errors from both sides. However, from the first scrum, it was clear that the Henley eight were in total control and this set up the victory for the Hawks.
However, it was Worthing who got on the scoreboard first with a well worked try from a retreating scrum. Good control from Worthing’s No.8, Kemp Price allowed him to break down the blind side and with help from Jack Maslen, Jonathan Dawe crossed in the corner.
The Hawks forwards responded quickly and under pressure, the visitors No8 was then very fortunate not to receive a red card for a dump tackle on Marcus Lowe. He was awarded a yellow card and from the penalty, the Hawks kicked deep into Worthing territory. Henley won the resulting line out and the excellent Hawks No.8, Alex Bradley finished off a driving maul to level the scores.
With only fourteen players, Worthing kept possession well and worked their way into Henley territory and full back Mike McLean landed a penalty to give the visitors an 8-5 lead.
The Hawks then dominated the rest of the half with the scrum in total control. Dave Hyde, as usual led the drives in the loose and good work from Dave Manning to keep the move going almost resulted in a Hawks score. The Worthing defence, however, was excellent and frustration set in for the Hawks as they struggled to find that piece of enterprise to unlock the Seasiders line.
Worthing were struggling to cope with the Hawks scrum, retreating every time as the home side piled on the pressure at the set pieces. Good driving play from Alex Bradley was again stopped illegally and the Hawks opted for another scrum only to be penalised themselves right under the Worthing posts.
Henley were now dominating possession and went close on a number of occasions and should have gone into the break in front on the scoreboard. Skipper, Sam Lunnon won another penalty for the Hawks only for the driving line out to be penalised as the Hawks became disjointed and bumped into their own player.
Two further scrums saw the visitors fall apart at the set piece but the Hawks couldn’t find a way past a resilient and determined Worthing defence and it was the visitors who led 8-5 at the break.
The Hawks weren’t deterred, however, and the start of the second half saw Henley continuing to use their forwards with Brad Cook, Tom Emery, Alex Bradley and Sam Lunnon busy in the loose. Eventually the Worthing defence cracked and three tries in fifteen minutes sealed the game for the Hawks. Hawks outside half Roddy Giles made a good break and he fed Leo Webb who crossed for a try in the corner in the corner.
Shortly afterwards, pressure eventually told on the Worthing defence again when after a series of scrums, the referee had no option to award a penalty try as Henley went for a further pushover which the Worthing eight couldn’t hold. A just reward for a fine scrum effort throughout the match.
Henley’s bonus point try was then scored shortly afterwards by Alex Bradley. A quick penalty from skipper Sam Lunnon was taken on by Dave Hyde and Jake Albon and the Hawks won another scrum deep in the Worthing 22. Bradley picked up from the base and finished the drive with his second try which Giles converted.
At 24-8, the Hawks were comfortable but they then wasted a good chance after pouncing on a poor Worthing line out. Cook and Emery drove forward and winger, George Wood and centre Ryan O’Neill got deep into the visitors territory only to see the chance go astray.
Worthing never gave up and when they got hold of the ball, their backs were sharp and posed problems for the Hawks defence. That, along with uncontested scrums, nullified the Hawks forward dominance somewhat. The Worthing backs, started to make use of the extra space and conjured a try for Matt McLean. An excellent break from centre Jack Forrest allowed McLean, who is the leagues top points scorer, the room he needed to squeeze over in the corner. McLean converted the try himself.
Despite the try, the Hawks were never really threatened, and Leo Webb went close for the home side before Xav Andre cut through the tiring Worthing defence to seal the game for the Hawks.
Worthing did produce the final score of the game with an excellent finish from Jonathan Dawe and a conversion again from McLean.
This was another morale boosting performance from the Hawks, with the forwards in particular making a statement. It bodes well for next Saturday, and one of the hardest places to go, an away trip to Cornwall to face the challenge that is Redruth. With the Hawks overtaking the Cornishmen into third place, it has all the ingredients for a very exciting match.
Match Photos courtesy of Steve Karpa;
15 Finn Pietersen, 14 George Wood, 13 Ryan O’Neill, 12 Xavier Andre, 11 Sam Portland 10 Roddy Giles, 9 Leo Webb
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Jake Albon, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley
Andrew Stobbs (for Cook) 72mins, George Primett (for Manning) 72mins, Adam Neal (for Hyde) 67mins, Tom Hall (for Lowe) 46mins, Ross MacDougall (for Portland) 36mins
Tries: Bradley 16, 59, Webb 43, Penalty 54, Andre 76
Conversions: Giles 59, 76
Tries: Dawe 10, 80, McLean 70
Conversions: McLean 70
Penalties: McLean 21,
Star Man: Alex Bradley (Henley Hawks)
Referee: Joe James
Halftime scoreline: Henley 5-8 Worthing Raiders