Hawks make it five in a row with last gasp try

Redruth 16-20 Henley Hawks

Henley would have been kicking themselves if they had not come home with the spoils from Cornwall in a hard-fought contest with old rivals, Redruth. The visitors had the lion’s share of the possession and territory and dominated the first half in particular. In the end, they held their nerve to score a perfectly executed driving maul with the final play of the game with David Hyde breaking away to make the all-important lunge to the line. 

The game was played in difficult conditions from the start, with a biting wind blowing down into legendary ‘Hellfire Corner’ and naturally the home side decided to defend the slope after winning the toss. Henley started at a furious pace pounding the Redruth line with a series of pick and drives and some good offloading. This paid dividends when George Primett crashed over after six minutes and Finn Pieterson adding the extras for the perfect 7-0 start. However, in scoring terms this is as good as it got for the visitors. Whilst they still continued to dominate, vital mistakes started to creep into their game. Penalties were conceded and handling errors began to accumulate and you could sense a feeling of frustration emerging as they were not making vital use of the conditions.

This allowed the home side to get back into the game and a decisive break by their scrum half, who had an excellent game, led to Redruth’s first try as they played a good offloading game to score midway out from the posts. The conversion into the wind proved too difficult.

Once again Henley found themselves camped in the opposition 22 only to allow the hosts relieving kicks and counter attacks from deep inside their own half when they lost the ball in contact or through basic handling errors. Henley dominated the lineouts throughout the afternoon, with Lunnon and Hyde both outstanding and constantly putting pressure on the hosts at every opportunity.

Right on half time, it was Redruth who got their noses ahead with a well worked try in the corner to give the hosts a 10-7 lead and the conditions very much in their favour in the second half. Henley, however, had other ideas and George Wood’s try shortly after the break showed their fighting spirit. The young winger was put into space and some clever foot work took him outside his opposite number to stretch and dive over.

With the game evenly poised and Henley holding onto a precious lead, nerves began to tell. With a strong wind in their favour, any penalty in their own half would prove costly. This showed when the hosts kicked two 40 metre penalties. Fortunately Pieterson held his nerve and clawed back three point from the boot. With the game now in the final phase, and with the Hawks down 16-15, Henley mounted a series of ruthless attacks and Ross McDougall was held up just short of the line.

Redruth were now under enormous pressure and the inevitable penalty conceded saw the Hawks kick to the corner for one final play, with the referee indicating it was to be the last play of the game. A perfectly executed catch and drive saw Hyde dive over. Pietersen was just short with the conversion into teeth of the wind.

There will not be many sides who achieve success at Redruth, but Henley maintained their momentum to keep hold of third position in the league. The resilience shown by the side was outstanding but they know there is more to come. Dominance of territory and possession must now be turned into scores on the board if they are to keep the pressure on the teams above them. However, this hard fought victory was a credit to this young, developing squad who have now won five games in succession.

Next up is Clifton at home this coming Saturday, November 3rd with a 2pm kick-off. Can the Hawks make it six in a row?

Henley: Pieterson, Wood, Andre, O’ Neil R, O’Neil L, Giles, Webb, Primett, Emery, Manning, Hyde, Albon, Lunnon, Hall, Bradley,  Replacements all used: Mc Dougall (47 mins) Lowe (55mins) Neal (50mins) Clarke (65mins) Stobbs (70mins)  

Match photo courtesy of Dan Barbary.