BARNES 17-24 HENLEY HAWKS
Tries: White 7, Wood 14, Parkins 43, Emery 66
Conversions: Giles 8, 15
Tries: Martey 20,Butler 33
Conversions: O’Toole 21, Hammett 34
Penalties: Hammett 40
Star Man: Dave Hyde (Henley)
Referee: Ben Russell
Halftime scoreline: Barnes 17 Henley Hawks 14
By Nick Pitson
Henley Hawks finished the year in style with another bonus point victory on Saturday, this time in West London against Barnes. The transformation of the side compared to last years team is a great testament to the work of Luke Allen and his team of coaches.
With Canterbury losing their Kent derby against Tonbridge Juddians, the Hawks leap back into second place in the National 2 South league table.
The Hawks however, did have to work hard for this victory as Barnes were a useful side who had come back from 14-0 deficit to lead 17-14 at the break and they did take a deserved point from the game.
It was Henley who started the better side, dominating the first twenty minutes with Barnes struggling to cope with the Hawks speed of play.
Playing into the breeze, the Hawks attempted to run the ball at every opportunity and an early opportunity arose when Alex Bradley broke clear on his own 22. He’d fed Sam Randle but the move ended with some good Barnes defence.
This was a sign of things to come and Henley scored their first try after just seven minutes with a scintillating team move from their own 22. Some great handling from both backs and forwards allowed George Wood to escape downfield. Although he was tackled by the Barnes defence, the move continued through George Primett and eventually to Scott White who crossed for the score. Roddy Giles converted.
The Hawks struck again shortly afterwards. A Barnes attack broke down and Dan Barnes gathered the ball for Henley and put the Hawks a good attacking position. The Hawks forwards then launched a number of drives at the Barnes line with Alex Bradley and Sam Lunnon going close. Eventually, enough space was created for George Wood to score in the corner. Giles again converted, this time from the touchline.
Just as it looked as though the Hawks would have too much for the home side, Barnes came to life and dominated the rest of the half, scoring seventeen unanswered points. They enjoyed most of the possession and looked threatening, especially when their speedy backs got hold of the ball.
A great dummy break from outside half Tom O’Toole split the Hawks defence and Robbie Martey scored under the posts with O’Toole converting.
With the Hawks now struggling to find any platform and making life difficult for themselves, Barnes levelled the scores with a try from David Butler following a quick penalty. Hammett converted.
With Barnes in control and the Hawks on the wrong side of the penalty count, Henley’s Scott White was given a yellow card and Hammett kicked a penalty to put Barnes in front at the break.
The second half started with Barnes wing Robbie Martey receiving a yellow card for tackling in the air. This gave the Hawks the initiative and with George Primett, Tom Emery and Dave Manning dominating the scrums, Henley got themselves fired up and back into the game. Dave Hyde again put in a magnificent effort in the second row. Playing with the elements, the Hawks attempted to kick for position more and keep the home side in their own half.
A good drive from Tom Emery and then Dave Manning put the Hawks in good position and a line out five metres from the Barnes line. From the line out, the ever reliable driving maul resulted in a try for second row Ross Parkins to put the Hawks back in front.
The second half was fiercely contested. Barnes still looked a threat when their backs had the ball but this began to happen less frequently as the home sides forwards began to tire.
The Hawks then went close when they won a turnover and a good break out from Giles and Randle put the Hawks in good position with a scrum five metres out. The chance went begging but further Hawks pressure won a penalty which they elected to kick for the corner instead of collecting an easy three points.
From the line out, another driving maul led to a try for hooker Tom Emery to put the Hawks seven points clear.
Barnes then produced a dramatic break out with some good handling but the Hawks scrambling defence managed to halt the attack and clear. Henley then managed to get into Barnes territory before the referee brought proceedings to a close.
With Canterbury losing their Kent derby to Tonbridge Juddians, the Hawks are back to second place in the table. This sets up the big local derby against the Rams at Dry Leas on January 5th, a top versus second encounter.
15 Sam Randall, 14 George Wood, 13 Dan Barnes, 12 Xavier Andre, 11 George Griffiths, 10 Roddy Giles, 9 Leo Webb
1 George Primett, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Ross Parkins, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Scott White, 8 Alex Bradley
Match Photos courtesy of Steve Karpa;