HENLEY HAWKS took advantage of a dry pitch as they brushed aside National Division 2 South basement side Barking at Dry Leas last Saturday.
For the first time since the turn of the year the hosts were able to use the fast open play of their backs and the driving running play of their forwards to score 10 tries.
Barking were not able to stop the backs running in six of the 10 and the forwards the other four.
The visitors stuck to the difficult task of keeping such a tirade at bay and their tenacity was rewarded when they scored a try from the last play of the game.
It took time for the Hawks’ style of play to get a rhythm established and after spending the first 10 minutes in Barking territory without breaking through it was a simple penalty by Will Robinson after six minutes that opened the scoring.
This was the beginning of another prolific scoring afternoon for the young fly half as he mustered 25 points, adding two tries and six conversions to his penalty. This amount of scoring cannot be achieved without the assistance of a team playing creative scoring rugby. This the Hawks settled down to provide after a quiet opening quarter.
It was led in the first instance by the Hawks’ forwards who collected a line-out ball five metres from the Barking line and Dave Clements in possession drove over the line.
This converted try was the start of an impressive performance by the lock who was in top form with a dominance of personal possession which he used to drive holes through the Barking defence.
His fellow lock Josh McNally was also causing mayhem with his aggressive running and it led to a distraught defence unable to cope with the decisive running of Martin Nutt up from fullback making the score 15-0.
Robinson and Luke Carter, along with Danny Wells, were stretching the visitors’ defence with their often wide passing but the next score came when Barking in possession looked to start a passing movement.
Robinson read their intentions well enough to intercept a pass 30 metres from the Barking line to leave the visitors no chance of stopping him running under the posts to touch down to increase the Hawks’ lead to 22-0.
It was then that right wing Liam O’Neill got in on the act as he came over from his right wing position to join in a passing movement towards the left touchline to score.
Within five minutes he scored again when he linked with number eight Robbie Stapley to make the score at half-time 36-0 with the help of two conversions.
Six minutes into the half Stapley caught the Barking defence napping when he took a tapped penalty on their 22 line and strode a way through a static defence to run round near the posts. Within two minutes he had scored again.
This signalled the introduction of the Hawks replacements — James Winterbottom for McMally, Jim Hadfield for Dave Manning and Hugo Milford Scott for Liam Dwyer.
Robinson saw a gap at the end of a line-out and strode through it with a burst of speed and the hint of a dummy to find no one at home as he strode 40 metres to the try line. Within three minutes the Hawks’ lead had stretched to 55-0 with the conversion.
Hawks’ left wing Richard Briggs added to the scoreline when he touched down following a swift pass from a ruck by Carter.
The Hawks’ scoring was not yet finished when a drive for the line was taken on by Winterbottom for the final try.
Barking had the last say when, after a run by Tommy Haynes, making his debut as a replacement flanker, the ball was turned over on their line. They then proceeded to take the ball by various incidents to the other end of the pitch to outwit a rather stranded Hawks defence for Steve Hihetah to touch down which Maxwell Dawes converted.
Henley Hawks: 15 Martin Nutt, 14 Liam O’Neill, 13 Tom Allen, 12 Danny Wells (Jevon Marsh, 51 mins), 11 Richard Briggs, 10 Will Robinson, 9 Luke Tucker, 1 Dai Maddocks, 2 Liam Dwyer (Hugo Milford Scott, 48 mins), 3 Dave Manning (Jim Hadfield, 48 mins), 4 Dave Clements, 5 Josh McNally (James Winterbottom, 48 mins), 6 Ben Ashmore, 7 Will Woodward, 8 Robbie Stapley (Tommy Haynes, 57 mins).