HENLEY HAWKS 30-30 CANTERBURY
Tries: Robinson 13, Hayhow 39, Berry 69
Conversions: Jackson 13, 39, 69
Penalties: Jackson 26, 63, 79
Tries: Murray 6, Sayers 31, 57, Rigby 36, Otto 75
Conversions: Best 75
Penalties: Best 65
Star Man: George Jackson (Henley)
Referee: Charles Gayther
Halftime scoreline: Henley 17 Canterbury 15
By Nick Pitson
Henley Rugby Club hosted a charity day in aid of Cancer Research at Dry Leas on Saturday wearing pink shirts in support of Hawks player, James Comben.
A good crowd witnessed the Hawks and Canterbury share sixty points in an open, evenly contested match where the lead changed hands on six occasions, but both teams, especially the Hawks, will rue some missed opportunities that could have given them victory.
The Hawks, started as brightly as the pink charity shirts they were wearing and Jack Robinson went close early on. There was good endeavour from both teams and it was Canterbury who opened the scoring after just six minutes with a well worked try from winger Jonathan Murray following a break from centre Frank Morgan.
Henley tried to play at a fast tempo and Connor Hayhow and Alan Awcock were a constant threat but it was George Jackson who was orchestrating things well for the Hawks. A drive by Brad Cook allowed Jackson to make a searing break and then give Jack Robinson the scoring touchdown in the corner. Jackson converted the try from the touchline.
Jackson and Robinson combined well again shortly afterwards and a try looked a certainty but Canterbury wing forward Seb Clark had other ideas and saved his side with a try saving tackle.
Another good move from Henley put Robinson clear and he combined well with Awcock and Jackson. The attack was rewarded with a penalty which Jackson converted to give the home side a 10-5 lead.
Canterbury played with spirit and then began to get back in the game mostly from Hawks errors. When a Henley attack broke down, the men from Kent countered and almost scored but Alan Awcock was on hand to rescue the situation for the Hawks. From the resulting five metre scrum, the ball was moved wide to Harry Sayers to touchdown for the visitors and level the scores.
Canterbury were gaining momentum and they turned down an easy three points and kicked a penalty into the corner. From the resulting line out, No 8 Jake Rigby finished off a driving maul to put the visitors back in front.
Just as it looked as if the visitors would take control of the game, back came the Hawks to take a slender lead into the break. A good drive from Dave Clements set up a backs move and Connor Hayhow showed some individual brilliance with a superb break to outpace and then side step the Canterbury defence to score. Jackson again converted giving the Hawks a half time lead of 17-15.
The second half continued in similar style to the first with Henley trying to play at pace and although the set piece was working well, started to make more unforced errors in their search for tries. In contrast, Canterbury were clinical and looked to capitalise on the home sides mistakes. After some even exchanges, Canterbury retook the lead. Another promising Henley attack faulted when a simple pass was spilled in the midfield and Canterbury’s wing, Harry Sayers pounced and raced 40m to touchdown for his second try and regain the lead.
A good Henley move involving Alan Awcock, Sam Portland and Max Berry pressurised the Canterbury defence to give away a penalty which George Jackson converted to level the scores at 20-20.
The Hawks then failed to collect the restart and gave Tom Best an opportunity to kick his first points for the visitors and regain the lead once again.
The spirit is good in the Hawks squad and back they came with good intent and a good break from Liam O’Neill set up the chance for Max Berry to score in the corner. Jackson again converted from the touchline.
Canterbury weren’t finished either and despite missing five kicks at goal, could still sense a victory when Henley’s Dave Hyde received a yellow card. Their decision to play for a line out was vilified with a try for Jarvis Otto from a driving maul which Best converted from the touchline to give the visitors a three point lead going into the final five minutes.
Another good break from Henley’s Connor Hayhow won a penalty and Jackson then levelled the scores before a frantic final few minutes. A great tackle from Xavier Andre stopped a Canterbury move but the Hawks failed to keep the ball and the visitors awarded a penalty within kickable range to win the match. Fortunately for the Hawks, the kick drifted wide and game finished in an honourable draw.
Match Photos courtesy of Steve Karpa;
15 Jack Robinson, 14 Xavier Andre, 13 Alan Awcock, 12 Connor Hayhow, 11 Sam Portland, 10 Joe Butler, 9 George Jackson
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Kieron Ball, 4 Dave Clements, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Tommy Haynes, 7 Scott White, 8 Marcus Lowe
21 Dave Manning (for Ball) 29 mins
17 Jon Wunder (for Emery) 51mins
24 Tom Hall (for Haynes) 40 mins
18 Max Berry (for White) 51 mins
20 Liam O’Neill (for Portland) 66 mins