By Carly Dudding
Bath Ladies 5-7 Henley Hawks Women
There was a sense of excitement as the Hawks travelled to Bath for their penultimate league game of the season. There had been some open and honest discussions earlier In the week which gave the Hawks a new found confidence and the togetherness they were looking for. Henley Women were eager to get out on the field with new shirts and new sponsor, G D Evans Interiors, the Henley Swag was back.
The game started well with the Hawks battling to keep Bath away from the try line. The physicality and intensity was high from the off with some hard hits and hand offs from Henderson and Collins. The Henley forwards were dominant in their tackling with Bath struggling to gain metres despite being in Henley’s 22. The first 20 minutes saw some strong carries from Matthews and Henderson but the forwards continued to make hard work of it as the Hawks needed to make ground. The space was open on the wing with the backs eager to get a run with the ball.
Bath were strong in the scrum and won the Henley ball. Some quick play from Bath out to the backs gave the Bath space to run wide but Henley stood strong with some excellent defensive tackles from Wilkie and a superb chase back from Moody beating Bath. Bath were eager to kick for territory but the Henley back three were not phased with Moody taking the high ball and having a strong run at Bath. Baths defence were set quickly and would not allow Hawks to break their line. Another strong run came from Wilkie from Henley’s try line but into a high tackle from Bath. A good decision made by the referee and penalty given to Henley. The Henley lineout stood strong providing quick ball seeing Henley making good meters with a strong break from Etheridge charging up the left wing into Bath’s half. Some errors in connection with the Henley backs saw the ball lost. The Bath lineout was too quick for Wheeler to steal and turned quickly into a maul. Quick hands from Bath gave them another go at Henley but line speed from Henley forced Bath to knock on. There were further errors from Bath with a forward pass which the referee was quick to spot.
Bath continued to Battle Henley which took them past the 22. Some strong picks from Bath saw them creeping closer to the Henley try line. A strong pick from Bath saw them dive low over the try line. 5-0 to Bath. Conversion missed. Half time. From the restart the Hawks kicked well and kept the intensity demonstrated in the first half up. Henley came out strong with some fierce line speed in defence and some clinical decisions to kick to space from Williams and Edwards. The forwards continued to make ground with Wysoki-Jones and Matthews making good ground. A strong pick saw Henderson dive over the Bath try line. 5-5. An accurate kick from Evans made it 5-7. Changes were made but the physicality and intensity remained high from the Hawks forcing Bath to make handling errors. The Bath scrum had lost its drive with Henley pushing back strong not allowing Bath to play the quick ball seen in the first half. The tempo remained high and the decision making remained clinical from Henley. An excellent break came from Simpson charging through Bath’s middle but was unable to get the offload away. The clock was ticking, and Henley fought to keep Bath well away from the try line. Time was called by the referee and the ball was kicked out of play. The match finishes 5-7 to Henley and the Hawks are jumping with pride. The Hawks know they have done enough to secure their status in Championship 1. The next battle see’s Henley fight it out at Dry Leas with local rivals Reading Abbey for what is set to be an exciting derby match as the final game of the Championship. The Henley Hawks women’s confidence is high, and we look forward to giving Reading Abbey a physical game. Congratulations to coaches’ players, Morgan Henderson and Holly Williams. Players player went to well deserving Kate Edwards.