LOCK Josh McNally ran in four of Henley Hawks’ eight tries as the hosts defeated newly promoted National League Division 2 North side Chester at Dry Leas last Saturday in their first pre-season friendly of the season.
The Hawks started the game well and after three minutes Liam O’Neill whisked through to touch down for the trusty boot of James Comben to put the hosts 7-0 in the lead. Soon after this became 14-0 when McNally was on hand to finish off some good handling by the backs to give Comben a straightforward conversion.
Chester were now able to get some useful possession and were rewarded when their forwards’ loose play gave number five Peter Rees the opportunity to cross for an unconverted try.
McNally was proving to be in fine form and he was on hand once more to touch down again. Within minutes he completed his hat-trick of tries. This came after good running from scrum half Luke Carter who had the Chester defence at sixes and sevens and when he carved a huge gap in their defence it was the big lock who gratefully received a scoring pass which, with another Comben conversion, moved the score on to 26-5.
Although the Hawks’ possession from their line outs was not always secure their forwards showed powerful driving and mauling and this led to the final score of the half as the only way that Chester could halt a powerful surge for the line was to pull a maul down. The result was the award of a penalty try which gave the Hawks a 32-5 lead.
The first quarter of the second half saw Chester with a vast amount of possession. This led to the visitors scoring a second try through Dai Ford.
With the score at 32-10 the Hawks turned to the bench. Liam Dwyer, who had been playing flanker, switched to hooker, a role he played for much of last season. He then had a purple patch and seemed not to be far from the ball in forward exchanges and was able to make a determined charge for the line to touch down a try which the Hawks were in need of. This was converted by replacement Elliott Markham to enable the Hawks to lead 39-10.
McNally took his tally to four tries when he was on hand to finish off a decisive break by Alan Awcroft which was not converted.
Chester were still showing they were far from accepting defeat and when they turned over the hosts’ possession deep in their 22 they swept 80 metres to the Hawks line with good handling for Harrison Vare to touch down.
The Hawks signed off with a final try by Will Jones who swept through to touch down to complete the score line.