Saturday, 20 August 2022

Hawks frustrated as hosts record their first league victory of season

EXPECTATIONS were high but it was a frustrating afternoon in the west London suburbs for

EXPECTATIONS were high but it was a frustrating afternoon in the west London suburbs for Henley Hawks on Saturday as they slumped to a disappointing five-try defeat at the hands of Barnes, who before this game had failed to register a win this season.

Despite an encouraging start, the Hawks fell away in the second period and looked a shadow of the side that had won the previous two games.

In fact, the Hawks had by far the better of the first half, dominating territory and possession but wasted a number of opportunities that would have seen a healthy half-time lead.

Fullback Alan Awcock looked in good form with some dominating line breaks and good tactical kicking.

Things looked good for the Hawks after seven minutes when skipper Dave Clements took a clean line out and a driving maul allowed Dave Hyde to crash over. George Jackson’s converted and with Barnes offering very little at this stage, it looked as though the Hawks could extend their winning run.

Centre Connor Hayhow looked sharp, making some good breaks and always looking to create things while Dave Hyde was the pick of the Hawks forwards with some surging runs.

The front row of Alex Montout, Stuart Philpott and Barnaby Abdale-Weir dominated the tight play allowing the Hawks scrum to dominate.

Then, out of the blue, a lapse in concentration allowed Barnes to level the scores. A home attack seeming to go nowhere resulted in two easy missed tackles from the Hawks and wing forward Matthew Steele ran 20 metres unopposed to touch down. O’Toole converted.

However, the Hawks then played some good rugby but wasted a bunch of excellent try scoring opportunities often through not being patient enough but also failing to breech a strong Barnes defence.

Breaks by both centres, Hayhow and Gardner created chances but the final pass was either missed or dropped. A break by Hyde and good link play between Xavier and O’Neill gave the Hawks a good attacking position only for a knock on in front of the posts after a series of attacking phases.

Although the scores were level at the break, the small band of loyal Hawks fans were optimistic. How wrong they were.

Barnes came out fighting in the second half and looked like the side that wanted to win more and a 15 point blitz in the first 10 minutes shocked the Hawks from which they never recovered.

Barnes went in front with an O’Toole penalty straight after the restart and then the Barnes scrum half Franklin broke from a scrum and from the resulting attack, Foster crossed for a try in the corner which O’Toole converted. A couple of minutes later, some weak Hawks tackling allowed winger Martey to score the home side’s third try and a 22-7 lead. Henley did respond with a well worked try from George Jackson. A chip and chase from Hayhow and good linking with Jake Albon and Jackson scored a try which he himself converted.

Any hopes of a Hawks revival were quickly shattered with some weak defence and a rejuvenated Barnes added tries through Hersey and then Steele to compound a miserable afternoon for the Hawks. A couple of flowing moves from the Hawks just before the end reminded everyone of what could have been but it was too late and the Barnes defence held firm.

Henley Hawks: 15 A Awcock, 14 X Andre, 13 T Gardner, 12 C Hayhow, 11 L O’Neill, 10 J Butler, 9 G Jackson, 8 J Albon, 7 I Davies, 6 T Hall, 5 D Hyde, 4 D Clements, 3 B Abdale-Weir, 2 S Philpott, 1 Z Montout-Alexis. Replacements: B Cook, T Emery, G Lane, C Davey, S Perry.

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