Clifton 29-22 Henley Hawks
The Hawks poor form continued on Saturday with another narrow defeat, this time at the hands of Clifton. Despite the hosts still having to fight off the threat of relegation, their confidence was high having secured three wins in a row before this clash.
The Hawks started promisingly with David Hyde crashing over after five minutes, following an attacking lineout. George Jackson's trusty boot added the extras to give the Hawks an early 7-0 lead.
However, the lead didn't last long. Fullback, Callum Roberts scored a fine try straight from the re-start aided by some pretty ineffectual tackling. Fly Half, Brad Barnes converted from in front of the posts to leave the score at 7-7.
Not long after, the hosts began to put the Hawks’ scrummage under pressure close to their line. Referee, Jack Sutton judged that Hawks experienced prop Dave Manning had offended to such an extent that he awarded a penalty try which gave Clifton a 14-7 lead.
The Hawks were having difficulty in understanding his interpretation of releasing a player in the tackle and were penalised six times which continually put them under pressure. However, 20 minutes into the game the Hawks earned a penalty 20 metres out and Jackson obliged to make the score 14-10 in favour of Clifton.
Although enjoying copious possession, the Hawks found difficulty in scoring points, showing little penetration in attack. Indeed, Clifton did just this when Will Pomphfrey was put away to find space to increase the hosts lead to 19-10.
However, the Hawks did take play to the Clifton line and, after putting their defence under pressure, secured a penalty try on the stroke of half time, which gave the hosts a slender 19-17 lead at the break.
The second half started slowly before a Barnes penalty increased the hosts lead to 22 -17 despite having been reduced to 14 men. The hosts pulled further away when some fine work by their forwards saw Barnes go over from close range. He converted his own try to take the score to 29-17 with 20 minutes left to play.
The Hawks responded with an unconverted try by their foraging hooker, Tom Emery who forced his way over to leave the scores at 29-22 with 10 minutes left. They were also unlucky when Clifton’s scrum-half, Mitch Spencer was blatantly off-side when preventing a try which could have drawn the game.
However, it was yet another case of what might have been for the Hawks, who will be desperate to end of the season on a high with three games left. This Saturday, they travel down to Worthing for a 3pm kick-off.
1. Dave Manning, 2. Tom Emery, 3. George Primett, 4. Dave Clements (c), 5. David Hyde, 6. Scott White, 7. Tommy Haynes, 8. Marcus Lowe, 9. George Jackson, 10. Toby Howe, 11. Sam Portland, 12. Connor Hayhow, 13. Liam O'Neill, 14. Xavier Andre, 15. Jack Robinson