Henley Hawks 60-28 Guernsey Raiders
It was a try blitz at Dry Leas on Saturday afternoon as the Hawks put Guernsey Raiders to the sword with a 10-try demolition job. Indeed, with this defeat the Raiders find themselves on the brink of relegation back to London & South East Premier after just one season playing in National 2 South.
Dan Barnes was instrumental throughout bagging himself a hat-trick of tries, and adding a further three conversions to cap a fine afternoon for the Hawks fly-half. Despite the resounding victory, the Hawks remain in fourth place, level on points with Tonbridge Juddians, and still six points behind second placed Canterbury, with just two games of the season remaining.
The Hawks started the game at a frenetic pace. Xav Andre scoring the first of a brace of tries for the centre after just three minutes of the game gone. Barnes was wide with his conversion attempt. The Hawks continued to assert their authority on the islanders with Alex Bradley finishing off a good team move, and Leo Webb scoring a superb try following a fantastic break and offload from Sam Lunnon. Barnes converted both to give the Hawks a 19-0 lead after just 18 minutes of the game gone.
The visitors came to life after the 20 minute mark. Following their first foray into the Hawks 22, Owen Thomas was on hand to put the finishing touches on a well-worked try after some patient build-up play. Thomas converted his own try to leave it 19-7.
With the visitors now down to 14 men, Henley pulled further away with Barnes crossing in the corner following sustained pressure. The Hawks scented blood and an excellent break from Liam O’Neill fed in George Griffiths who evaded several tackles to cap a fine try. This put the Hawks up 29-7 at half time.
The Hawks started the second 40 in the same way they finished the first, with Xav Andre crossing for his second try of the match. Liam O’Neill, now with kicking duties, narrowly missed the conversion attempt. However, he soon made amends with his first of a brace of tries with the fullback creating problems all afternoon for the Raiders defence. Guernsey narrowed the deficit when Matt Creber went over and Thomas converting, but the damage was already done.
With 15 minutes to go, Henley continued to attack, with Dan Barnes converting his second try of the afternoon, and just 2 minutes later, the Hawks fly-half completed his hat-trick after yet more sustained pressure on the tiring Raiders defence.
Henley weren’t finished yet, and after 68 minutes, O’Neill dotted down again to leave it 60-14 to the Hawks. To give the Raiders credit, they fought back admirably and scored two late tries from Harry Baron, which left them with a try bonus point for their efforts, but also staved off the threat of relegation for one more day.
Saturday also marked the inaugural Gin & Fizz Festival at the Club which coincided with this year’s Ladies Day. It was fantastic to see so many people enjoying themselves, so a big thank you to everyone who supported the event, in particular G.D Evans Interiors who sponsored the day.
Hawks: L O’Neill, Griffiths, Andre, R O’Neill, Robinson, Barnes, Webb; Stock, Emery, Primett, Albon, Hyde, Lunnon (c), Lowe, Bradley
Replacements: Cook, Deacon, White, Goodison, Wood
Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa; https://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_karpa/albums/72157704451704692