HENLEY Hawks slipped to their second defeat of the season at home to local rivals Chinnor
HENLEY Hawks slipped to their second defeat of the season at home to local rivals Chinnor on Saturday.
As at Redruth the previous week this was a miserable day for running rugby as it was played in continuous drizzle and worse.
This derby game was played before a crowd of little more than 400 supporters and the Hawks support was strangely subdued. They may have been well in awe of the new clubhouse which had been opened pre kick-off by All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick.
Chinnor arrived on a high after scoring a seven try victory over newly promoted London Irish Wild Geese the previous week.
From the kick-off the Hawks were quickly established in the Chinnor 22 and the visitors, under pressure, gave away a penalty for off-side which was converted by Hawks’ newly signed scrum-half George Jackson.
Their 3-0 lead was short-lived as Chinnor quickly, by means of a driving maul, a feature of their game, took the lead when number eight Tom Burns touched down for fly-half Jon Hopkin to convert for the visitors to lead 7-3 after 11 minutes.
Undaunted, the Hawks took the game back to the visitors’ 22 and once more they defended at a cost when they refused to release the ball in a ruck. Jackson again punished them with a penalty from 40 metres which narrowed Chinnor’s lead to 7-6.
The game at this stage was developing into a see-saw affair with Chinnor returning to the attack with the Hawks possession in handling less than secure. The hosts were also denied good line-out ball by resorting to tapped ball which was manna to Chinnor’s back row.
Once established in the Hawks’ 22, close to and in front of the posts, they produced a solid secure set scrum which was exploited by scrum-half Greg Goodfellow who took advantage of Hawks’ number eight Julian Watkins absence having retired injured, to sprint down the open side, so bereft, to touch down. Hopkin again converted to put his side 12-6 in the lead after 25 minutes.
Chinnor continued to have the better of the forward exchanges and exploited another driving maul for flanker Richard Thorpe to cross for their third try which Hopkin again converted to make the score 19-6.
No further points were conceded before half-time and on the resumption the Hawks began to get the better of the game. Improved possession from their line-outs gave their backs opportunities to test the visitors’ defence. Wing Xavier Andre and fly-half Joe Butler made progress on occasions but no attacking moves were maintained.
However the forwards were now able to sustain driving mauls and this led them to secure a try down the left through flanker Tom Hall. Although close to touch the reliable Jackson secured the conversion of this with a kick.
The Hawks were now close to getting on top and their fitness again promised to bring the award of a penalty try. This was not to be and a comparatively rare counter attack silenced the Hawks’ hopes when Hopkin made the score’ 22-13 with a penalty. The Hawks did not threaten to score although a break down the left by Dyneal Fessal promised a little before he was robbed of possession.
The Hawks’ greatest satisfaction from a disappointing defeat by local rivals was finishing strongly to deny them a bonus point to fire their promotion ambitions.
Henley Hawks: 15 James Comben, 14 Xavier Andre, 13 Louis Flynn, 12 Liam O’Neill, 11 Dyneal Fessal, 10 Joe Butler, 9 George Jackson, 1 Ziana Montout-Alexis (Zaki Chamnaoui, 67 mins), 2 Tom Emery, 3 Brad Cook, 4 Dave Clements (Stuart Philpott, 6 mins), 5 Jake Albon, 6 Tom Haynes (Charlie Davey, 36 mins; Clements, 72 mins; Davey, 75 mins), 7 Tom Hall, 8 Julian Watkins (Tom Haynes, 22 mins).