Hawks flying high after Old Reds triumph

Old Redcliffians 0-50 Henley Hawks

Henley produced an emphatic away win to keep their perfect start to this years campaign. This was in many ways the perfect game to test all of Henley’s credentials. Henley were clinical in attack, accurate at set piece and resolute in defence.

It was particularly pleasing that a determined and robust Old Reds side were unable to penetrate a solid Henley defence, indeed towards the end of the game the away side had to endure wave after wave of attack as a proud Old Reds side tried desperately to get a final score.

Liam O’Neill opened the scoring on eleven minutes as a training ground move saw him carve open the defence with Ben Bolster adding the extras. At this stage Henley were always on the front foot and this enabled them to play some smart rugby showing good hands and neat footwork.

Charlie Hughes grabbed his debut try three minutes later, as a quick tap and go from Ewan Fenley  brought about a series of strong pick and drives seeing the visitors penetrate the big home side pack. Once again Bolster added the conversion kick from wide out.   

The Henley set piece was functioning really well, in particular the line out was dominated by the visitors all afternoon. From one such catch and drive Alex Bradley was driven over, this time the conversion failed. Scores were coming at regular intervals and the bonus score came on 32 minutes as the league’s top try scorer Jack Robinson went over in the corner after some slick handling exploiting the blind side of a ruck which caught the visitors napping. Once again Ben Bolster converted superbly from the touch line.

With a half time score of 26-0 to the visitors it was important that there was no complacency in the Henley side. Indeed quite the opposite happened as a superb kick off caught the visitors napping. Henley quickly regained possession and multiple phases later it was Henley’s centre, Xav Andre who cut through to score midway out, uncharacteristically Ben Bolster was wide with the conversion attempt. However within a couple of minutes George Wood had shown strength and determination to break several would be tacklers to score close to the posts and allow Bolster a simple conversion.

Further scores came from George Griffiths and Tom Hall with Ben Bolster converting both to bring up the 50 point mark with 19 minutes remaining. To their credit, the home side dug in and started to have more possession but they were met with a brick wall of gold defence who were determined not to concede.

There are clearly some tough games coming up in the next few weeks and Henley will have to be at their best to ensure a continuation of this form. In addition, it was pleasing to see the bench make such a significant contribution with Angus Hinton having a good debut poaching some line out and running aggressively, and with Samir Kharbouch adding a good deal of determination in the midfield. Replacement props George Primett and Zach Clarke took the game to their opposite numbers and the hard working and industrious Scotty White was once again outstanding in the loose.

All in all a pleasing afternoons’ work in perfect conditions, its several seasons since the Old Reds have failed to score on their own ground. Henley will go into this week against Bournemouth confident yet no knowing there is no room for complacency in this league.

Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa;

https://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_karpa/albums/72157710848046063

Henley: O Neill, Robinson, Andre, Griffiths, Wood, Bolster, Fenley, Cook, Emery, Hughes, Hyde, Albon (capt) Lunnon, Hall, Bradley.  Replacements: Primett, Clarke, White, Hinton, Kharbouch.