Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Hawks on the up following hard-fought Dry Leas win

Hawks on the up following hard-fought Dry Leas win

HENLEY HAWKS backed up their win at Tonbridge the previous week with a deserved home victory against Old Albanian last Saturday. The 25-18 triumph moved the Hawks up to third in the table.

Dry Leas was anything but dry as the Hawks were made to work hard by a resolute and well organised Old Albanian side in a game played in driving rain throughout. It did look at times as though the Hawks hadn’t learned their lessons from playing Redruth two weeks ago in the same conditions, but they held their nerve and saw the game out.

Things looked good for the Hawks from the start when the visitors over kicked the kick off, giving the home side the chance to attack. A scrum penalty was won and they kicked for the corner. A good driving maul made some 20m and Ewan Fenley went close. After a number of forward drives, enough space was created for Jake Albon to score and give the Hawks the perfect start.

Old Albanian matched Henley for long periods as both sides battled the conditions. The visitors showed their quality 10 minutes later when they took the lead. Ex-Hawks player Joe Butler finished a slick short side move for a try which he converted himself. Another good Old Boys attack won a penalty in front of the posts and Butler further extended the visitors’ lead with a penalty shortly afterwards.

The Old Boys defence was solid but the Hawks, looking to keep the ball alive at every opportunity, retook the lead when some good play from Ewan Fenley and Sam Lunnon allowed Samir Kharbouch to break a tackle. Charlie Hughes eventually crossed for Henley’s second try which Ben Bolster converted.

Back came the visitors and after a period attacking the Henley 22, a penalty allowed Joe Butler to kick Albanian back into the lead.

The Hawks spent the rest of the half in the Old Boys territory. Alex Bradley and Will Bordill excelled in the loose play and the home side came close a number of times. A yellow card for the visitors gave the Hawks a penalty in front of the posts which would have regained the lead but they opted for a scrum instead of three points.

The ball was won by the Hawks forwards and Liam O’Neill and Marcus Lowe went close before the ball was dropped and the chance to take the lead had gone. Old Albanian went into the break with a 13-12 lead.

The Hawks played with the driving rain behind them in the second half and Bolster soon had the home side back in front with a penalty following a good charge upfield from Jake Albon. With the rain getting heavier, the Hawks began to take some control of proceedings and the home scrum was becoming increasingly dominant.

The Hawks were making good use of the short side and good link play between Scott White, Jake Albon and Marcus Lowe got the Hawks away from their own line.

The Hawks extended their lead just before the hour mark when an attempted chip was charged down by the visitors and hacked clear. Alex Burrage collected the loose kick, broke through a number of tackles and gave Ewan Fenley the opportunity to score under the posts. Bolster converted to put the Hawks 22-13 ahead.

The Hawks attempted to keep the Old Boys in their own half and there were some good tactical kicks from Bolster.

However, with the Hawks trying to move the ball in midfield, the conditions meant mistakes were inevitable and more than once the visitors jumped at the chance to break out. An Albanian 50m interception was halted just short by a try saving tackle from Hawks wing Reuben Norville, but from the resulting ruck, the ball was moved wide and Hogan scored for the visitors in the corner.

With the home side’s scrum now totally in control, the Hawks spent the last ten minutes deep in Albanian territory and saw out the game, spending much of the last ten minutes in the Albanian 22 and sealed victory with a further penalty from Bolster.

The home side could have claimed a bonus point just before the end when a run from Murray Bellis was halted just short of the line.

In conditions not conducive for their style of play, this was a good win for the Hawks who were made to work hard against an excellent defence of a competent outfit.

Henley Hawks: Liam O’Neill (Murray Bellis, 71 mins), Jack Robinson, Alex Burrage, Samir Kharbouch (Connor Morrison, 65 mins), Reuben Norville, Ben Bolster, Ewan Fenley, George Primett (Brad Cook, 57 mins), Tom Emery, Charlie Hughes (Rory Mason, 47 mins), Sam Lunnon, Jake Albon, Will Bordill, Alex Bradley (Scott White, 38 mins), Marcus Lowe.

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