Spirited Hawks fall short against League Leaders

Henley Hawks 28 Bishop's Stortford 38

Henley Hawks put in one of their better performances of the season at Dry Leas on Saturday and although they created plenty of problems for Bishop's Stortford, the league leaders showed why they are the team to catch with an organised performance of power and speed.

Henley to their credit never gave up and matched their high flying opponents for much of the game. However, the Hawks had to deal with long periods of constant pressure from their visitors and were undone by the more powerful and accurate performance of Bishop's Stortford’s forwards, the speed of their backs, along with a loss of concentration that seems to have been the Hawks’ downfall on a number of occasions this year.

In almost perfect playing conditions, the visitors started well and were quick to impose their physique and power on the Hawks and put them on the back foot but it was the home side who scored first. A good drive from Ziana Montout-Alexis resulted in a penalty for the Hawks which was quickly taken to allow Dave Manning to scamper over for the game’s first try. Jackson converted.

Bishop's Stortford then levelled the scores with a well taken try from Nick Hankin which Tom Banks converted.

The play was fast and frantic with Bishop's Stortford using their larger forwards to penetrate into Henley territory and put the Hawks defence under immense pressure. For a while, the Hawks stood firm with Rob Bell and Tom Hall outstanding at the breakdown.

Just as it look as though the Hawks would reach the break on level terms, they lost concentration at vital moments and allowed the visitors to score twice in quick succession. Firstly, a slick handling move put William Simmonds clear and he beat a number of Henley defenders to score under the posts, and secondly when Nick Clancy collected his own chip kick through. He linked with Jonathan George who in turn fed John Neville who had an easy run in. Banks converted both tries to give Bishop’s Stortford a lead 21-7 at the break.

It looked as though the Hawks were beginning to struggle with the visitors intensity but to their credit never gave in and evidently outscored the league leaders in the second half. They certainly gave Bishop's Stortford more than their fair share of headaches and problems to deal with.

The Hawks started the second half positively with full back Sam Portland making a number of telling runs into Bishop's Stortford territory.

The introduction of Jim Hadfield and Dave Hyde gave the Hawks fresh impetus, Hadfield securing the scrum and Hyde making his presence felt in the loose play.

A series of Hawks scrums set up the platform for Joe Butler to cross for the Hawks second try, again Jackson converted.

The visitors always managed to keep the Hawks at arms length on the scoreboard and shortly afterwards, poor Hawks tackling in the centre allowed a second try for John Neville. Banks converted.

The Hawks were still competing fiercely, and after a series of forward drives, scrum half George Jackson raced through and ran 30m to score near the posts. He converted his own try to put the Hawks in with a chance of at least a bonus point.

Henley then enjoyed a period of possession but it was often in their own half and they struggled get out of their own territory with the larger Bishops Stortford forwards now dominating the breakdown. In attempting to run out of their own 22, the Hawks were penalised for holding on and Banks kicked a penalty to give the visitors a 31-21 lead with about five minutes left.

It looked like the Hawks efforts would go unrewarding when a good break by the impressive Stortford second row Jonathan George, allowed Tom Coleman to put a tactical chip through which ended in a good try for Sam Winter. Again Banks converted.

But back came the Hawks in the dying seconds, desperate to take something for their efforts and with the visitors  constantly and illegally trying to see out the game, a quick penalty allowed Joe Butler to race through for his second try, the Hawks’ fourth and a thoroughly deserved bonus point. Jackson added the extras with a dropped goal.


Tries: Manning 10, Butler 51, 80, Jackson 67,

Conversions: Jackson 10, 51, 67, 80


Drop goals:


Bishop's Stortford

Tries: Hankin 22, Simmonds 38, Neville 40, 57,  Winter 80

Conversions: T Banks 22, 38, 40, 57, 80

Penalties: T Banks 80

Drop goals:


Attendance: 285

Referee: Gareth Holsgrove

Half-time: Henley 7Bishops Stortford 21

Henley Hawks

15 Sam Portland,  14 Harry Burn, 13 Xavier Andre, 12 Liam O’Neill, 11 Simon Perry, 10 Joe Butler, 9 George Jackson,

1 Dave Manning, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Ziana Montoya-Alexis , 4 Dave Clements, 5 Jake Albon, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Rob Bell, 8 Marcus Lowe


17 Jim Hadfield 40 (for Montout-Alexis)

24 Stuart Philpott 55 (for Emery)

18 Dave Hyde, 40 (for Albon)

19 Scott White, 65 (for Bell)

20 Tommy Haynes 30 (for Andre)

Montout-Alexis 65 (for Manning)

Bell 73 (for Hall)

Hall 74 (for Jackson)

Emery 76 (for Hall)

Match Report by Nick Pitson

Match Photos courtesy of Steve Karpa

Hawks Women End Season on a High

Henley Hawks 15pts - Wasps 10 pts

To say that the Hawks women had an unsettled and unfortunate start to the season is an understatement.

The women were fighting to find a new coach just weeks before preseason started, while trying to attract new players after a loss of some senior teammate moving on to premiership and other clubs at the end of the last season. Injuries had also been unkind to the women.

The girls luck was sure to change, and change it did. Through the form of Olivia Perry. Ex England international and wife to current Hawk. Olivia started lending a hand in training and added the structure and consistency the women were craving for. A couple of weeks later Henry Day; the women’s back coach from 3 season ago joined the coaching team adding to the strength and quality coaching.

Having built each week despite the scores not always reflecting the quality and passion the women have. This weekend saw the Hawks play their final league game against Wasps 2’s. Winning would result in the Hawks not finishing bottom of the table. Running out at Dry Leas the women were high in confidence and believed this win was theirs. Having only narrowly lost at the start of the season to Wasps 2’s, a valiant result considering the Hawks finished the game with only 13 players. This weekend the Hawks had a full squad even though some player were unavailable, clearly showing the strength the Hawks have built throughout the season.

The Hawks had a strong start with some fast-paced rugby, clearly, they meant business. Excellent handling allowed the Hawks to build up the pitch. Despite being turned over the women didn’t let this phase them and show that their defence was just as good as their attack. A break from Wasps winger stopped metres from the line with a solid cover tackle for Dudding. Unfortunately this hard work from the Hawks wasn’t quite enough as Wasps were first to score 5 -0.  

Not letting the score phase them the Hawks got straight back into the game, running hard off the kick off, driving Wasps back forcing the errors. Having won the ball back, Hawks went blind off the scrum, some brilliant offloads from Leeds to Wheeler to McFarland who looked like she was clean in but frustratingly chased down and knocked the ball on the tackle before being able to get the pass away.

Receiving a penalty and opting for touch, the Hawks won a scrum from the lineout. Excellent scrum and platform for Wheeler to break off the back and score. 5-5

Half time 5-5

The Hawks now playing ‘home’ saw some solid running lines from Ferguson, Wysocki-Jones and Matthew allows the Hawks to gain field position. Great distribution from the back off the rucks from Leeds to McFarland who put Craig through a hole in the centres, getting the first score on the board for the second half 10 – 5.

Wasps came straight back but the Hawks defence was solid with some great hits and turn overs from Hearn and Solowin. Despite the efforts, Wasps scored in the corner 10 – 10.

Time slowly running out. Not letting this get in the way the Hawks rebuilt. A few penalties received and the Hawks opting from scrums as they had been unstoppable all game, continuing to put the pressure on the Hawks were unlucky not to get over the line but instead turned over by Wasps who cleared their line. Three minutes to go, Wasps scrum just inside the Wasps half. Yet again another solid scrum, Ferguson winning the ball allowed for Wheeler to pick off the back and broke the line for a 40m sprint for the line. 15-10

Two minutes to go, all Henley had to do was keep the ball. Received the ball from the kick off and picking and going from the ruck, time ticking away. Great efforts from Wasps saw them turn it over ship it wide but great pressure and defence once again from the Hawks forced the error. Full time whistle blown.

What a brilliant way to end the season.

Players player went to No.8 Wheeler for her excellent try to win the game. Coaches player went to captain Wysocki-Jones for solid defence and tackling.

Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa:


Matthews, Ferguson, Van Der Grient, Wysocki-Jones (Sponsored by Martin Bidlake-Corser), Timmins, Nash, Balmer, Wheeler, Leed, McFarland, Thompson, Dudding (Sponsored by Seamus Jeffs), Solowin (Sponsored by Total Constructions), Burger, Hearn (Sponsored by Loddon Brewery), Pruszkowski, Sealey, Barrett, Barclay-Klingle, Craig, Murray and Wilkie.

Hawks make it Three Successive Victories Away at Clifton

Clifton 27pts Henley Hawks 29 pts

The Hawks continued their winning streak at Clifton but as the previous week against Barnes the result hung in the balance until the final kick of the game .

Played in windy but surprisingly dry conditions it was a struggle between two sides who were prone to error through out which led to scores in a match which produced nine tries. This was, then,  an exciting game for spectators to watch if not one to arouse admiration as far as skill was concerned.

The Hawks had the advantage of a brisk wind at the start and with this most of the first half was played in the Clifton half. However the Hawks were slow to get into their stride and conceded two tries in the first 30 minutes . The first came after just tenminutes and this came from a kick to five metres in the corner from a penalty which resulted in a drive over the Hawks line which HenryHarper was able to touch down with support from his supporting pack. This was not converted in the difficult kicking conditions.

Although the Hawks now took the game into the Clifton half they could not use the wind to put pressure on the home half although a penalty attempt byGeorge Jackson was not able to take advantage of this. Indeed the Hawks fell further behind when Clifton sent their backs on a handling move from half way led by skipper Dan Wells. They drove into the Hawks’22 wherefragile tackling allowed supportingflanker Max Woodward to cross for a try near the posts

It was then the Hawks got on the scoreboard when left wing Sam Portland dislodge the ball in a tackle close   to the half way line. He immediately picked up the looseball and using his pace strode away from a non-existentdefence to cross half wayfrom touch. This try convered by fly-half Joe Butler put the Hawks just three points in arrears.

They now started to take the game to Clifton and the pack began to move forward especially using their favourite mode of attack-  the driving maul. Flanker Tom Hall was able to work his way through for a tryafter 34 minutes’ This was followed by a scavenging Liam o’Neill following an attack beating the Clofton defence to a touch down putti ng the Hawks 19 13ahead at half -time. Barnes having kicked a penalty for Cliftonjust before Hall’s touch down

The second half started with a comedy of kicking errors with neither side being able to put the ball in to touch except on the full out side their 22 areas. The Hawks eventually controlled the capricious wind well enough to again put an attack in with the ball having been kicked over the Clifton try line and O’Neill again scramblingto good effect beat the Clifton to a touch down. The Hawks were now 24-15 in the lead Barnes having reduced their lead with a penalty after 45 minutes

In a relatively rare attack Clifton put pressure on the Hawks ina line out and prop Alex Giltrowwas able to barge his way through for another unconverted try with the last quarter of the game remaining. With20 minutest to go thr game was still open for either side to win with the score at 24-20 to the HawksHereabouts the game meandered on losing momentum in part because of referee David Conways extraordinarlygenerous interpretation of the advantage law which served to slow the game down. 

However the match appeared to be going the Hawks’ way when again   Portland with his decisive elusive running burst through close to touch on the left to touchdown but Butler failed   to convert. Howeverthe Hawks’ were now 29-20 in the lead with   ten minutes to go and theyseemed to be easing to an important victory. However Clifton now counter attacked with a powerful burst by replacement Will Pomphreyfrom their 22 to putcentre Jack Newey over for a try which , however, he could not convert with Hawks’ just 29-27. In the lead.

They were still under pressure with referee Conwaystill not blowing the final whistle.

The last moments of the game came with Newey asked to kick a penalty from 35 metres half way to touch to winthe game. Onlyseven days before the Hawks faced defeat against Barnes at Dry Leas buta similar kick by George Jackson won that    game for the Hawks . The air was full of tension as Neweyapproached this vital kick to win the match. To the Hawks relief he failed toconvert . The Hawks came away from the game also reflecting on their good fortune when Giltrow’s try was not converted.   From in front of the posts Barnes’  kickcrashed into an upright.. C’est la Vie!  

Henley Hawks

15.Liam O’Neill, 14. Sam Portland 13. Xavier Andre 12. Connor Hayhow ( Harry Burn 30), 11. Simon Perry, 10. Joe Butler, 9. George Jackson, 1. Dave Manning, 2. Stuart Philpott ( Tom Emery 61),3. Zian Montout-Alexis) 4. Dave Clements ( capt. David Hyde 68), 5. Jake Albon, 6. Tom Hall ( Tommy Haynes 76), 7. Rob Bell, 8. David Hyde ( Scott White (30)    

Hawks Aim to Continue Winning Form at Clifton

Henley Hawks having won their last two games, at Dry Leas, hope to maintain their winning form when they play away at Clifton, this Saturday, kick-off 2.30p.m.

The Bristol based side, the training base of thepremier club, liejust one place ahead of them in Division 2 (South) in ninth position on 56 pointshaving won twelve games, three more than the Hawks. Howevr they have recorded the fewest bonus points, eight, in the league. They had themeasure of them when the two sidesmet in early Novemberat Dry Leas, 23-13..

The Hawks, of late, have been able play withmore settled sides. The trend continues with Rob Bell returning after a week away and he will team up with Tom Hall, who returnedafter a two week absence to score a brace of tries against Barnes last week. They will to form a formidableback row although the improving Marcus Sims is rested because of a minor injury and his place goes to David Hyde moving across from No.6 . Thefront five,  which now has the benefitof Ziana Montout-Alexisavailable in the front row, show one change. In recent games the Hawks have hada reliable supply of ball from their line outs with both hookersTom Emery and Stuart Philpott finding their jumpers. At Clifton, Philpott will start with Emery on the bench.   The Hawks are blessed now with tall men skipper Dave Clements,  David Hyde and Jake Alboncalling the shots. . They will need them to be on their mettle at Clifton for the home side always fieldstrong big versatile packs.

The Hawks are now also fielding more strike runners amongst the backs with the advent of Sam Portland, who was not available for selection last week, and Ben Rath, who has recentlyjoined from London Scottish likely to play at full back after a good performance on the wing against Barnes, switching with Liam O’Neill who moves to the wing where he has proved a good finisher.

If the Hawks can get this burgeoning talent on their booksto play as a unit victory at Clifton is not beyond them. 

The successful Henley Colts side, who scored  80 points against High Wycombe Colts last week, play St. Austell in the National Shield on Sunday March 5th at Dry Leas, kick off 2.30 pm. Full Bar facilities available.

Hawks Escape Barnes Defeat by Fourteen Men

Henley Hawks approached this game against Barnes with justifiableconfidence after a well merited performance at Dry Leas the previous Saturdayagainst mid -table Canterbury to ease the threat of relegation. They also approached this match assured they could not repeat one of their worst performances of the season when away at Barnes they were defeated 36-14 by a recentlypromoted side.

However from the start of this game Henley supporters got a distinct feeling of dajavu. After 14 minutes they were seven points in arrears when Barnes,  in clearing from an Hawks attack with a kick deep into the home side’s 22,Hawks’ full back Liam O’Neill, with confidence,  tried to run out pastthe advancing Barnes backs, unsupported. This  led to wing  Robbie Martey scoring a try close to the posts which fullback Tom O’Toole converted with ease to put the visitors 7-0 in the lead.. Indeed he was in excellent 100% kicking form with three penalties added before half-time by which time Barnes led 16-0!

After the scoring of the Barnes try the Hawks took the game close to the visitors line. However their attacking play was punctuated by handling errors whichcame from frenetic play which consisted of trying to move the ball wide through their backs plagued with a number of handling errors, maybe due in part to playing in cold drizzly windy conditions.  Barnes were therefore not out under a great deal of pressure and they retained possession far better than the Hawks sensibly using short more clinical passing.

However after nearly fifteen minutes the game was influenced by what appeared to be  a game changing incident. The Hawks mounted a driving maul near the visitors posts but  this was stopped by centre David Butler kicking out at a Hawks player. Referee Robert Teare dealt immediately with this by the  issue of a red card reducing the visitors to fourteen men for the remainder of the game.

Sadly  the Hawks could not use this numerical advantage to their benefit. Indeed in taking the game to the Hawks half on a number of occasions for the remaining 25minutesBarnes earned three penalties for various offences which were all converted to make the score 16-0 at half-time

The Hawks changed their tactics on the restart and reverted to the most successful method of attack they have used all season – the driving maul-  supported invariably by inclusion of  some of the backs. This immediately put the Hawks on the score board when hooker Tom Emery grounded the ball after an attacking  line out ( which was again the mostsuccessful   source of Hawks’ possession). This try was not converted but they scored again just ten minutes later from a similar move. The scorer on this occasion was flanker Tom Hall who had replaced Tom Haynes.

Indeed the use of thefresh legsof prop ZianaMontout -Alexisand Hall was vital in putting the Hawks in charge of the game. This was especially so when Hall collected a loose ball at pace thirty minutes from the Barnes line and  swept through unmolested to touch down. Unfortunately this score was not majorised as Jackson’s kick crashed against an upright.

The game was now on a knife edge with about 17 minutes to go. The Hawks on three occasions came close to scoring again through driving mauls. They  were put on the attack in the Barnes half by strong bursts down the left by recent signingof wing  Ben Rath from London Scottish .Barnes continued to lead 16-15!

With two minutes of the game remaining  they moved the ball wide through  their backs from leftto right  to get the winning score. With the attack switched to the right Barnes  gaveaway a penalty about thirty metres out to the right of the posts. Jackson had the result of the game dependant on his  first successful kick of the game . In high tension his kick went through the posts.

The Hawks thus earned a further four valuable points to stave off relegation.

Match photos courtesy of Steve Karpa:

Henley Hawks v Barnes

15. Liam O’Neill,14.Ben Rath, 13. Xavier Andre, 12. Connor Hayhow, 11. Simon Perry, 10. Joe Butler, 9. George Jackson, 1. James Hadfield (Ziana Montout -Alexis 41), 2. Tom Emery ( Stuart Philpott 75), 3. Dave Manning, 4. Dave Clements (capt.), 5.Jake Albon, 6. David Hyde, 7. Tom Haynes ( Tom Hall 51),8. Marcus Lowe.