HENLEY HAWKS came into this game full of confidence after their convincing 39-19 victory over Shelford knowing that Lydney had pipped them for the top spot in Division 2 South after the Forest of Dean outfit had defeated a Barking side weakened by relegation.
This confidence was shattered by the determined visitors who took the lead with a converted try by wing Alex Hall who collected an expertly placed cross kick to touch down. Russell Curtis converted well.
Things got worse when second row James McMahon touched down 13 minutes later for Lydney with the Hawks finding it hard to get into the game and seemingly getting knocked back at each attempt.
Efforts to develop try scoring chances were further handicapped by slipshod handling. However, they eventually developed a good handling movement from the visitors’ 22 and when the ball was moved wide to prop Ant Brennan he ran in from 20 metres to score. But the Hawks suffered a further setback when they conceded a penalty in front of the posts to go 15-5 behind.
The Hawks, however, began to impose themselves, their forwards exerting their authority through driving mauls. This led to prop Dai Maddocks being driven over for a try which was converted by James Comben. He was also on hand to score after a maul close to the Lydney line and also converted to make it 19-15 at half-time.
Hawks set out impressively on the restart and stretched their narrow lead when the ever-present Matt Payne joined in a passing movement in the visitors 22 to score, the successful conversion extending their lead to 6-15.
After that the forwards turned the game, dominating the set scrums to send Lydney back on their heels at every opportunity. They now had plenty of possession and a sniping Jack Shaylor got the Hawks’ attacks rolling. Lydney never made it easy as they tackled hard and the Hawks had difficulty in releasing the strike power of right wing Liam O’Neil, and Xavier Andre on the left.
The Hawks, acknowledgeing that they needed to keep their scoring going, gave Comben a chance to do so with a penalty goal on 53 minutes. It took another 10 minutes to add to their 29-15 lead, Will Woodward, who had replaced Chris Emmett as open side flanker, finishing off a break.
The Hawks final try, by Richard Briggs, was the best individual effort of the game. He collected a pass from Wells down the left on halfway and bamboozled the Lydney defence with a swerving run and a dummy to cross for a try near the posts. Comben’s conversion made the final score 41-15.
The Henley Hawks was as follows:
15 Tom Allen (capt)14 Liam O’Neill, 13 Ali James (Martin Nutt 66), 12 Danny Wells, 11 Xavier Andre ( Richard Briggs 59), 10 James Comben, 9 Jack Shaylor, 1 Dai Maddocks (Hugo Milford Scott 66), 2 Ant Brnnan ( Michael Clarke 59), 3 James Hadfield, 4 Liam Dwyer, 5 Andrew Cannock, 6 Matt Payne, 7 Chris Emmett (Will Woodwaard) 8 Robbie Stapley