Tuesday, 22 January 2019

MacDougall shines as side get back to winning ways

MacDougall shines as side get back to winning ways

HENLEY Hawks got back to winning ways on Saturday with a bonus point victory over a plucky London Irish Wild Geese side in Sunbury, outscoring their hosts by six tries to two.

In blustery conditions, it was a scrappy game, particularly in the first half with neither side managing to get any momentum into their play.

It was not the Hawks’ best performance either with plenty of unforced errors, especially at the line-out where the visitors lost a number of their own throw ins. That said, the Hawks were by far the better side and scored four tries in a much improved second-half effort.

Again it was the Hawks forwards who set up the victory with a dominant display while the backs also looked dangerous when they got some sort of consistency going, particularly George Wood who impressed on the wing.

The opening exchanges were aggressive with both defences on top as each side tested the other out. The Hawks found building any continuity difficult which wasn’t helped by a number of line-outs lost on their own throw.

The scrum again was excellent and the Hawks won a penalty which they elected to kick for the corner. Two lines-out were lost before a third was sealed and the ever effective driving maul led to the opening try for number eight Alex Bradley.

London Irish were competing well at this stage and reduced the arrears with a penalty from Ollie Turner after Hawks were caught offside.

With Henley struggling to find any continuity, this was the hosts’ best period of the game and they took the lead with a driving line out of their own with Scott Moore touching down. Turner converted.

The Henley scrum was in total control now and their dominance almost led to a try. A scrum penalty was awarded and the Hawks again kicked to the corner. The driving maul crossed the line but was held up. From the scrum, Dan Barnes drove forward setting up a good position for the backs, only to see the final pass go astray when it looked easier to score.

The forwards were driving well in the loose play and a good move involving some deft handling between Jake Albon, Dave Manning and Sam Lunnon, set up position for Ross MacDougall to crash over for a try. Roddy Giles converted to give the Hawks a 12-10 lead at the break.

The Hawks needed something to spark them into some sort of form and they got it right at the beginning of the second half when the hosts spilled the restart deep in their own 22. From the scrum, there were good drives from Tom Emery and Jake Albon before Ross MacDougall crossed for his second try of the match near the posts. Giles converted. The bonus-point try came four minutes later when Ross MacDougall robbed the ball from an Irish attack and raced out of his own half. He was eventually caught but there was good support from the forwards and quick ball allowed Dan Barnes to run in and touch down. Giles again converted.

That score put the game out of reach for the Irish but the home side, to their credit, kept going and managed to get some possession. The Hawks defence was tested but it stood firm as some of the exchanges became feisty.

Henley scored their fifth try when good use of the blind side put George Wood clear on the wing. He made some 40m before linking with Sam Randle, who crossed for the try. The Irish replied immediately. A Hawks error in their own 22 led to a home scrum from which number eight Chris Browne picked up and crashed over.

The Hawks had the final say in the gathering gloom. Attacking on the Irish 22, Tom Hall ran an excellent angle to break through, avoiding a couple of tackles before passing to Scott White who crossed for Henley’s sixth try. Giles converted to complete the victory.

Although the Hawks didn’t play at their best in this match, it was a workmanlike performance that got the job done.

Henley Hawks: 15 Sam Randall, 14 George Wood, 13 Dan Barnes, 12 Xavier Andre, 11 Jack Robinson (Finn Pietersen, 66 mins), 10 Roddy Giles, 9 Ross MacDougall (Leo Webb, 66 mins), 1 Brad Cook (George Primett, 59 mins), 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning (Zac Clarke, 66 mins), 4 Jake Albon, 5 Adam Neal (Scott White, 50 mins), 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Tom Hall, 8 Alex Bradley.

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