Impressive Wright bags hat-trick as Henley Bulls move up table
HENLEY BULLS leapt four places up the Zoo Shield table with a bonus point victory over
HENLEY BULLS leapt four places up the Zoo Shield table with a bonus point victory over the Wolfhounds who were making their first visit to Henley.
With the Regatta Meadow in the best condition it has ever been for expansive rugby, both teams displayed a courageous intention to take risks in attack and provided an entertaining game that ebbed and flowed in both territorial gain and the score-line.
The Bulls were the early pace-setters, pressing confidently for an opening score with Charley Davey and Matt Thomas dominating line-out possession in attacking positions and the pack seemingly gaining the advantage in the early scrummages. However, this scrummaging dominance wasn’t to last as the Wolfhounds used their weight advantage to full effect to provide the bedrock for their early success. Several breaks from wing Harry Burn came to nothing as the Wolfhounds defence held strong.
Having soaked up 10 minutes of early pressure, the Wolfhounds broke free from their 22, turning possession over and caught the Bulls defence as it narrowed to break away for a try against the run of play.
The Wolfhounds’ confidence was now buoyant and the Bulls’ discipline began to teeter on collapsing. The Bulls, over-eager to turn ball over at the ruck, failed to fold around the breakdown just inside the Wolfhounds’ half and as the backs filled the vacant defensive positions the visitors had little to stop them once the line was broken for the second time. This time the conversion proved difficult but the Wolfhounds looked to be in the ascendancy at 12-0 up.
The boost the Bulls needed came at a critical time just prior to the half-time break when scrum-half Liam Eaton fed Toby Howe who found lock Charlie Davey in midfield. The Wolfhounds defence were quick to close Davey down but he held the ball up well enough to launch a series of tight attacking rucks from prop duo Primmett and Chamnoui which put man-of-the-match Jimmy Wright in a position to burst through to the line to score. Howe landed the conversion taking the Bulls into the break 12-7 down.
James Hadfield came into the front row at the break to re-establish a foothold at the set-piece and his contribution proved pivotal as the scrum now provided the platform the Bulls needed to play a more structured game.
Wright soon added a second try when he found himself in a wider position off a breakdown and fed by skipper Hankinson his pace took him to the line from 25 metres out. Howe split the uprights again giving the Bulls their first lead. Josh Collis and Davey combined well to disrupt and dismantle any continuity the Wolfhounds tried to establish leaving short of any quality possession.
Hankinson and Udomu had provided some penetrative line-breaks in the first half and Martin Nutt added a spark of attacking flair as he moved to centre when Udomu was forced off. Nutt put Ross Lewis away up the left flank into Wolfhounds territory as Burn on the other flank inserted himself into the attack with gusto.
The Wolfhounds struggled to contain the variety of incoming attack and Hankinson himself saw an opportunity to show his strength and pace as he burst through diagonally, swatting away tackles to score and stretch the Bulls lead.
Matt Thomas, now at number eight behind a pack with more stability, showed his class in both defence and in launching the attack that led to the bonus point try. Davey, Primmett and Josh Collis combined to create quick ruck ball which allowed Eaton to feed Hankinson and his looping pass over the scrambling defence was gathered in the air by Haynes to touch down out wide.
Wright capped his outstanding performance by completing his hat-trick showing he had the energy and strength remaining to beat the Wolfhounds midfield, charging in from 30 metres for Howe to convert with aplomb.
Henley Bulls: George Primett, Keanu Brouard (James Hadfield, 40 mins), Zaki Chamnoui, Matt Thomas, Charlie Davey, Josh Collis, Jimmy Wright, Tommy Haynes (Teddy Hewins, 82 mins), Liam Eaton, Toby Howe, Ross Lewis, Dave Hankinson, Jay Jay Udomu (Tyler Wint, 51 mins), Harry Burn, Martin Nutt. Replacements not used: Lou Morgan, Sam Middleton, Elliot Wigmore.