HENLEY HAWKS 42-31 OLD REDCLIFFIANS
Tries: Wood 2, 33, Webb 13, Lunnon 35, 67, Hall 76
Conversions: Giles 2, 13, 33, 35, 67, 76
Tries: D Fry 45, 51, Penalty 50, Bird 60
Conversions: Hill 45, 51, 60
Penalties: Hill 27
Star Man: Sam Lunnon (Henley)
Referee: Adam Wookey
Halftime scoreline: Henley 28 Old Redcliffians 3
By Nick Pitson
The Dry Leas crowd was treated to ten tries as the Henley Hawks got back to winning ways with a bonus point victory against a spirited Old Redcliffians side on Saturday. The Hawks won comfortably in the end and it was an entertaining, but bizarre game. The Hawks took a 28-3 lead into the break only to find themselves 31-28 behind twenty minutes later as Redcliffians had a purple spell. The Hawks gradually regained the upper hand and their composure to pull away in the closing stages.
It was all Henley in the first half and after just two minutes, a turnover secured by Ben Bolster and Marcus Lowe, resulted in George Wood scoring the first of Henley’s six tries after being given space by Xav Andre. Roddy Giles kicked the conversion.
The Henley forwards were back to their best, dominating the loose exchanges with the back row of Tom Hall, Marcus Lowe and Alex Bradley causing havoc amongst the Old Reds defence. Henley’s intensity at this point was proving far too much for the visitors who found possession hard to come by and their defence was desperate at times.
It wasn’t long before the Hawks scored again. A good break from Roddy Giles was followed by some excellent support handling from all of the back row and Lowe put Leo Webb over. Again Giles converted.
Eventually the visitors ventured into the Henley half and created some good pressure and with Henley infringing, got their only points of the half through a Kieran Hill penalty.
The Hawks were always threatening, playing the game with width and pace with the backs looking dangerous when they got their hands on the ball. With some good touches from debutant, Ben Bolster, the Hawks added two more tries before the break.
After some further Hawks pressure, and some good drives from Dave Hyde and Tom Emery, George Wood ran an excellent inside line to touchdown under the posts, Giles converting.
The Hawks bonus point try came straight from the Old Reds restart. Hawks skipper Sam Lunnon caught the kick off, broke clear and made some thirty metres before linking with Marcus Lowe. He continued the break out and passed back to his skipper to under the posts. The Hawks at this point had all the momentum and Giles’ conversion gave the home side a 28-3 lead at the break.
Just when it looked like the the Bristol side were in for a long afternoon, they reappeared early during the break and embarked on a lighthearted skills session much to the enjoyment of some of the crowd. This sparked them into life, and that, along with some poor Hawks defence saw the Reds responded brilliantly scoring four tries in twenty minutes and take a very unlikely lead.
Henley were also guilty of indiscipline, and time and again the Reds cut through the Hawks defensive line, particularly on the inside channels. As good as the Hawks had been in the first half, it was a complete contrast for the first twenty minutes of the second period.
The Reds restarted in spirited fashion and wing forward Dan Fry grabbed the first try for the visitors after some good pressure from his forwards. Hill converted.
Shortly afterwards, with Henley guilty of indiscipline, Redcliffians kicked for the corner and from the line out, they were stopped short by the Henley defence. The visitors pack created enough pressure in the resulting five metre scrum that the referee had an easy decision to give a penalty try after the Hawks illegally disrupted the scrum for which Greg Goodfellow received a yellow card.
The visitors now had momentum and a bit of belief and scored again immediateyl. Dan Fry collected the restart and easily broke the Hawks defensive line. After some good support from the Reds front row, Fry outpaced the Hawks defence to score his second try which Hill converted.
The Hawks were frustrated, wasting a couple of opportunities to relieve the pressure and another clean break from outside half Kieran Hill, then put Henry Bird over under the posts and with Hill converting, the Reds now had a surprising but deserved lead.
With the chance of a shock defeat staring them in the face, the Hawks needed to respond and they did. They gradually regained some control and composure and got themselves back into the Reds half. After a good series of forward drives, a dart from Greg Goodfellow and drive from Dave Manning allowed skipper Sam Lunnon to score and restore the Hawks lead.
With four minutes left, the Hawks won a penalty and kicked for the corner. There was some great work from the forwards before Tom Hall was driven over for the Hawks sixth try. Roddy Giles completed a good afternoon with the boot to convert.
After two defeats, this was a welcome win for the Hawks. They played some great rugby in the first half and will be pleased to have scored 42 points. There are no easy games in this league and the slightest lapse in concentration can result in what happened in the first part of the second half. But the win will put the Hawks in good heart for their trip to Bristol next Saturday and the challenge that is Dings Crusaders.
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Sam Lunnon, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley, 9 Leo Webb,10 Roddy Giles, 11 George Griffiths, 12 Dan Barnes, 13 Xav Andre, 14 George Wood, 15 Ben Bolster
George Primett, 80mins (for Manning)
Zak Clarke, 46mins (for Cook)
Ross Parkins, 75 mins (for Hyde)
Ryan O’Neill, 59 mins (for Bolster)
Greg Goodfellow, 40mins (for Webb)
Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa below;