Monday, 08 August 2022

Emery bags brace as Henley gain bonus point five-try victory

HENLEY HAWKS’ visit to the West Country proved productive last Saturday as they returned with a five-try bonus point victory over Bristol side, Old Redcliffians.

They were made to work hard by a spirited Redcliffians side, but it was a much improved and disciplined performance from last week, and a deserved victory set up by a good all-round effort from the forwards, topped by a try double for hooker Tom Emery.

The early exchanges took place in the middle of the field with both sides evenly matched and no quarter asked or given.

It took the Hawks a while to get into their stride, but once they did, the forwards drove well with the back row of Sam Lunnon, Marcus Lowe and Alex Bradley to the fore. When the Reds got the ball, they struggled with the pressure of the Henley defence with Dave Hyde and the outstanding Jake Albon leading the way.

However, it was the home side who opened the scoring after 15 minutes when a chip through from centre Jones was controlled by winger Bird who won the race to touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed.

The Hawks had an opportunity to respond straight away when Dave Manning set up Sam Lunnon for a clear break from which the Hawks should have scored but for the home side illegally stopping the move.

The Hawks were dominating proceedings and they levelled the scores when Dave Hyde crashed over following a good run from George Wood and a drive from Alex Bradley.

The Bristol side had their best period of the game putting the Hawks defence under pressure in their own 22. Their stock move, which they overused in the game, was to use Jermaine Janes on the crash ball but the Hawks were equal to anything the Reds threw at them. Jake Albon and Connor Morrison led the way for the Hawks in defence, getting through an immense workload.

With the Hawks in possession, a good counter ruck by the Reds led to a penalty for the home side which Kieran Hill converted. However, a mistake by the Reds straight afterwards gave the initiative back to the Hawks who scored two tries in five minutes just before the break.

The first was from the tried and trusted line-out driving maul. Sam Lunnon won the line out with Alex Bradley leading the drive before Tom Emery touched down. Roddy Giles converted.

With the Reds trying to respond, an interception for Sam Lunnon saw him run half the length of the pitch before being caught but the support was there and centre George Griffiths finished off a great break-out try. With Giles’s conversion, the Hawks led 19-8 at the break.

Playing down the slope in the second half, the Hawks tried to keep the home side camped in their own territory and this they achieved for the first 20 minutes or so of the half.

The Hawks front row of Dave Manning, Emery and Rory Mason were outstanding in a scrum that was totally dominant.

The Hawks went close through George Wood and were a little unlucky not to win a penalty try after a series of scrums on the Reds line. Then a good break by Finn Pietersen was finished off by Leo Webb only for play to be brought back for a forward pass.

When the Reds did get possession, the Hawks defence was well organised and patient, keeping the home side in their own half.

The Reds eventually did manage to get into Henley territory and started to win more possession. They were still in the game but not really threatening to score as the Hawks forwards continued to dominate when it mattered.

The Reds spirit was finally broken when Sam Portland was put in the clear and he outpaced the defence before passing to Connor Morrison for the fourth and bonus point try.

At 24-8, the Reds were out of the game but to their credit they fought their way back up the field in the Henley half. Scrum half Dom Sprague caught the Hawks napping with a quick penalty from which he crossed for a try.

Despite the Reds trying to force a bonus point, it was the Hawks who had the final say in the game. A Connor Morrison break was well supported by George Griffiths and Alex Bradley. A penalty and a line-out later, another try from a driving maul was again finished off by Emery for his second try. Giles converted to complete the victory for the Hawks.

Henley Hawks: Finn Pietersen, George Wood, Connor Morrison, George Griffiths, Sam Portland, Roddy Giles, Leo Webb, Dave Manning, Tom Emery (George Primett, 77 mins), Rory Mason (Brad Cook, 61 mins), Jake Albon, Dave Hyde (Adam Neale, 77 mins), Sam Lunnon, Marcus Lowe (Scott White, 61 mins), Alex Bradley. Replacement not used: Joe Butler.

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