HENLEY HAWKS fielded a side consisting of five new players as they went down to
HENLEY HAWKS fielded a side consisting of five new players as they went down to defeat in their first pre-season friendly of the season against Championship side Richmond at Rosehill on Saturday.
The new recruits included Brad Cook (ex Bury St Edmunds) and Ziana Mouton-Alexis (Amersham and Chiltern), both front row where Cook can hook and prop, Dynel Fassell (Bulls), wing and new half-backs Joe Butler fly-half (Amersham and Chiltern) and George Jackson scrum-half (London Scottish).
The experienced Richmond side saw their pack driven back over their line for new prop Ziana Mouton- Alexis to touch down after just five minutes. The Hawks went seven points ahead with a conversion from close to touch by Jackson.
The lead was short lived as the visitors swept to the other end of the pitch to score a converted try to equalise. The Hawks struggled to get and keep possession as they were dominated in rucks and mauls.
This situation was aggravated by the number of penalties conceded in rucks as they attempted to deny Richmond ball which their backs were capable of using to stretch the Hawks defence.
The visitors were dominant in the line-outs and used a clean catch to take the lead with a second converted try with some decisive running by their backs to split the Hawks defence and increase their lead to 14 points with similar attack.
The Hawks struck back when they again advanced to the corner of the pitch which they used to score their earlier try. Ten metres from the Richmond line they were awarded a penalty. Scrum-half Jackson seized the opportunity to tap and go and with a determined thrust went through the Richmond defence to touch down a try which he converted.
Richmond made went 28-14 ahead when they used a tapped penalty themselves. However the second half saw the Hawks getting a much greater share of possession which they used to play running rugby.
Fly-half Butler showed good pace to exploit holes in the opposition’s cover and this led to a fine individual try when he ran through from 40 metres to score near the posts for Jackson to convert.
The Hawks now had Richmond’s defence stretched and exploited this when they kicked long to the visitors’ line and fullback Liam O’Neill used his pace to run half the length of the pitch to beat the Richmond cover to the touchdown.
Again the accurate place kicking of Jackson secured the extra points to level the score with 15 minutes of play remaining.
The Hawks then lost control when running out of defence and the experienced Richmond side exploited this to score two late tries to win the match.
Henley Hawks: 1 Billy Moss (Jamie Cox), 2 Brad Cook, 3 Ziana Mouton-Alexis, 4 Charles Davey (David Hyde), 5 Dave Clements, 6 Tommy Haynes, 7 Connor Morrison, 8 Julian Watkins, 9 George Jackson, 10 Joe Butler, 11 Dynel Fassell, 12 Alan Awcock, 13 Tom Gardner, 14 Xavier Andre, 15 Liam O’Neill.