Henley 17–20 Taunton
It was deja-vu for the Hawks as a last-minute Gary Kingdom penalty gave Taunton a narrow victory over the Hawks in atrocious conditions at Dry Leas.
Hawks scored first following an excellent break from Sam Portland. A quick tap penalty in the Taunton 22 sent Connor Hayhow through under the sticks. However, Taunton soon responded following sustained pressure in the Hawks half with Ben Oliphant-Thompson powering over from close range.
Henley re-took the lead through Hayhow following a piece of individual brilliance dodging several tackles before going under the posts untouched. A Jackson penalty built a ten-point cushion before Taunton hit back on the stroke of half time after Joe Butler’s kick was charged down and Oliphant-Thompson crashed over again to reduce the gap to three points at half time.
A Gary Kingdom penalty on 50 minutes levelled the scores at 17-17 before Taunton were reduced to 14 men. However, Henley couldn’t make the numerical advantage count before the last ten minutes descended into chaos as the heavy rain made conditions almost unplayable. Taunton were playing with more intelligence and adapted better to the heavy rain and were rewarded with a penalty on the stroke of full time which Kingdom calmly converted, just as he did at Dry Leas at the same time last season.
Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa:
Tries: Hayhow, 10, 25
Conversions: Jackson, 10, 25
Penalties: Jackson, 35
Tries: Oliphant-Thompson, 22, 39
Conversions: Kingdom, 22, 39
Penalties: Kingdom, 50, 80
Referee: Andy Wigley
Man of the Match: Gary Kingdom
Hawks: Ball (Hodson, 66), Hadfield (Primett, 43), Manning, Clements, Hyde, Berry, Haynes (White, 26) Lowe, Jackson, Butler (Howe, 56), Portland, Hayhow, Perry, Andre, Robinson
Replacements: Hodson, Primett, White, Howe, Venner
Taunton: Edwards, Hamilton, Wilman (Tribble, 76), Persey, Harvey (England, 51), Hooper (Samways, 75), Fleming, Oliphant-Thompson, Banks, Kingdom, Claydon, Carter, Fraser, Struminski (Paul, 75), Rice
Replacements: Spurdle, Tribble, England, Samways, Paul