Henley Hawks 26-24 Barnes
Henley Hawks withstood a strong second-half fightback from Barnes to win an ultimately exhilarating, yet error-strewn contest.
Barnes started strongly and were rewarded with a penalty after three minutes when Charlie Wicks kicked the visitors ahead. The game struggled to get going but a kick to the corner saw Henley work through the phases, and their patience was eventually rewarded when Dave Manning crashed over following a great driving maul. Butler added the extras. A leg injury to the ever-present, Tom Hall, who was celebrating his 100th cap for the Hawks on 28 minutes, saw the flanker replaced by Alex Bradley, making his first appearance for the Club following his summer switch from Chinnor. With Henley now in the ascendency, a fine team move saw winger, Sam Portland cut through the Barnes defence to dot down making it 14-3. Despite the Hawks having all the posession and territory, they couldn't stretch their lead any further before the half time whistle.
Henley started the second half in a similar vein, showing real intent and endeavour right from the off. It wasn't long before replacement prop, Brad Cook went over in the corner following more impressive build-up play. The game had now turned into a stop-start affair, and with the Hawks reduced to 14-men following a yellow card to Joe Butler, Barnes eventually got a foothold in the game. Their first try was a reward for their hard work and flanker, Ciaran Smyth spotting a gap in the Hawks defence, managed to wrestle his way over the whitewash. With Henley now down to 13-men following another yellow card, this time to replacement scrum half, Ross MacDougall, Barnes took full advantage of the Hawks ill-discipline and a clever kick through from Wicks was picked up James Morgan to score under the posts. The Hawks responded well and went over for a bonus point try with the excellent, Leo Webb dotting down in the corner following more impressive forward play. The drop goal conversion from Butler near the touchline due to the wind blowing the ball off the tee was a real highlight.
However, Barnes were not done yet. Danny Holmes reduced arrears again to just two points with another converted try, but Henley managed to see the clock down without any further alarm to register their second consecutive win. An excellent start to the season which puts the Hawks in second place behind the Rams, who the Hawks make the short journey to next Saturday. Kick-off 3pm. It promises to be a great game!
Match photo courtesy of Gary Evans.
Tries: Lowe 23, Portland 35, Cook 42, Webb 75
Conversions: Butler 24, 36, 75
Tries: Smyth 66, Morgan 70, Holmes 78
Conversions: Wicks 66, 70, 78
Penalties: Wicks 3
Referee: Ben Russell
HENLEY: Randle (Robinson 42), Wood, Morrison, Perry, Portland, Butler, Webb (MacDougall 41), Stock (Cook 36), Emery, Manning, Hyde, Albon, Lunnon, Hall (Bradley 28), Lowe
Replacements: Cook, Mason, Bradley, MacDougall, Robinson
BARNES: Murray, Martey, Adams, Holmes, Scott, Wicks, Carlisle, Hunter, Garrett, Ryan, Nimmo, Steele, Smyth, Van der Poel, Crossland
Replacements: Boaden, Symonds, Hind, Davies, Morgan