Wednesday, 23 January 2019
HENLEY HAWKS produced an excellent second half performance against Old Albanian at Dry Leas on Saturday to record their 10th win from their last 11 matches.
However, this was a game for the die hard rugby fan as the driving rain and gales made any sort of creative play difficult to put together.
That said, both teams produced a productive, competitive game to satisfy the supporters who did venture out on to the sidelines.
The atrocious conditions meant that the sodden Dry Leas pitch began to cut up quite badly by the end and it was difficult to identify which players were playing for which side.
The early exchanges were littered with mistakes as the ball was difficult to control but the Hawks had the first chance when a chip through and some good handling from Sam Randle put George Wood clear but his inside pass went astray.
Nevertheless, it was the Hawks who struck first after a good move involving the impressive Dave Hyde, Randle again and skipper Sam Lunnon. A driving maul got the Hawks within striking distance and it was scrum half Leo Webb who broke through to touchdown for a try that Roddy Giles converted.
This seemed to galvanise the visitors who then dominated the rest of the half. They used their forwards effectively, managing the conditions well and pinning the Hawks in their own 22 for long periods.
The Hawks defence seemed to be holding but Old Albanians levelled the scores on 22 minutes when they disrupted a Henley line-out and their prop Zaki Chamnaoiu crashed over after a number of pick and drives from the visitors’ forwards. Daniel Watt converted.
The Old Boys showed great discipline in keeping the ball and scrum half Thompson kicking for position when the occasion needed it. The ominous signs for the Hawks was their pack retreating at every scrum and it looked as if the visitors would start to run away with the game.
Albanians took the lead just before the break when the Hawks lost another line-out. The visitors’ forwards drove for the line only to be held up. After a number of scrums, the pressure told on the Hawks and Thompson pounced to touchdown.
The Hawks had dug deep at this point with some determined defence and did well to go into the break once 12-7 behind.
Playing with the wind and rain at their backs now, Henley came out for the second half in a totally different mindset and straightaway took the game to Old Albanians, knocking them off their stride completely.
The Hawks quickly went in front thanks to Xavier Andre who finished off a good team move that made light of the conditions. Giles converted, and shortly afterwards, George Griffiths picked up a loose ball in the middle of the field and outpaced the Old Boys defence for a fine individual try to put the Hawks 19-12 ahead.
An injury to Albanians scrum half Morgan Thompson saw the referee send both teams into the changing rooms as the medical staff treated the injured player. The break lasted 15 minutes but it didn’t halt the momentum that the Hawks had built up.
The introduction of Brad Cook at prop coincided with a complete turnaround in the scrums with the Hawks now in total control and Alex Bradley making good yards with a number of driving runs. A cross kick from Dan Barnes put the visiting fullback under pressure from the Hawks forwards. He dropped the ball and Sam Randle pounced to score the Hawks bonus point try. Giles again converting. The Hawks’ fifth try was scored by star forward Dave Hyde who went over in the corner after a good break from hooker Tom Emery. Giles converted from the touchline to complete proceedings.
This was an excellent result for the Hawks against tough opponents in testing conditions. Henley’s Director of Rugby Nigel Dudding was pleased with what he saw. After the match Dudding said: “The response shown by the players in the second half was very pleasing. To score four tries in the second half and restrict them from scoring showed how much we wanted to win the game.”
Henley Hawks: 15 Sam Randall, 14 George Wood, 13 Dan Barnes, 12 Xavier Andre, 11 George Griffiths, 10 Roddy Giles (Ryan O’Neill, 72 mins), 9 Leo Webb (Finn Pietersen, 70 mins), 1 Zak Clarke (Brad Cook, 49 mins), 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning (Elliot Deacon, 74 mins), 4 Ross Parkin (Liam Goodison, 28 mins), 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Scott White, 8 Alex Bradley.
24 December 2018
CAMPAIGNERS are offering a prepared response to ... [more]
POLL: Have your say