A LONG and successful season for Henley Hawks Under 8s teams culminated in a fantastic display at the Oxfordshire County Championships at Chipping Norton RFC.
Henley entered three teams into the Championships: the Apaches, the Braves and the Chiefs.
From the off, the Apaches, in the top tier Greystones Cup competition, played perhaps the best rugby that we have seen from them all season.
Direct running, great use of width and space and some incredible offloads combined with strong, unrelenting defence saw the Apaches ease through the pool phase with wins over Wallingford (8-4), Chinnor (8-5) and Oxford Harlequins (8-5) to set up a semi-final against a strong Didcot side which they came through by eight tries to five.
The final, against a very well drilled host team, Chipping Norton Tigers, was a thriller.
The Apaches left the best display until last, showing great composure and courage to clinch the Greystones Cup and the County Championship by nine tries to eight.
The Braves were very unlucky not to proceed to the finals series in the Rollright Cup with two hard-fought 5-5 draws against Chinnor and Oxford and a narrow defeat by a single score to Oxford Harlequins.
That said, they showed courage and maturity to record a big win in their positional play-off match, seeing off Banbury by nine tries to four.
The Chiefs, competing in the Wychwood Cup, is a team full of combative, direct runners with great self-belief and huge heart. They needed all of these qualities in what proved to be a very close competition. Having progressed through their pool with wins against Banbury (5-4) and Wallingford (6-5), they beat an excellent Oxford Harlequins side 4-3 in the semi-finals to set up a final against Chipping Norton Cheetahs. Having run themselves ragged in the Semi, the Chiefs came up just short, losing the final by seven tries to four but left with huge smiles on their faces.