Sunday, 15 December 2019

Vikings slip to first defeat of season at home to league leaders

HENLEY VIKINGS fell to their first defeat of the season against unbeaten league leaders Banbury 2nds on a wet and miserable day at Dry Leas last Saturday.

The Vikings were forced to field a much changed side due to drop-outs during the week, but they started brightly, winning the gain line battle. Archie Van Dijk was held up just short after good handling from debutant Dan Bond and Huw Evans.

However, it was Banbury who scored the first try against the run of play and they then established territorial dominance. Good Vikings defence led to a mistake by the Banbury backs, which was pounced upon by Van Dijk, and after making 30 metres he found Tom Durrant with a pass, and he sprinted in from the Banbury 10 meter line.

The Vikings then lost Hugo Gentilli to injury, with flanker Dan Folley stepping up impressively to prop, and Toby Stevens then received a yellow card for an illegal tackle. On the stroke of half-time Banbury scored their second try and Durrant had to leave the field, to be replaced by Ali Fisher.

The Vikings started the second half strongly as Banbury then scored their third try against the run of play. Of more significance was a second yellow card for Stevens after a verbal incident with the referee, which reduced the Vikings to 14 men. The Henley forwards responded strongly and scored the next try through skipper Craig Johnston, who had a good game overall.

With only one score in it, Henley were now dominating the play in Banbury’s half, but the visitors managed to break out and score what turned out to be the last try of the afternoon.

Henley were then reduced to 13 men when Duncan Zacks made a strong break, but in doing so dislocated his finger and had to leave the field. The last significant play of the game was a break for the Vikings from Will Janes, which led to more pressure on the Banbury line, but the score that would have yielded a losing bonus point did not materialise.

The final score was 22-10 in Banbury’s favour, which was by far the closest game they have had all season. Ben Folley, for his all round play and sterling service as replacement prop, and skipper Craig Johnston were named joint Henley men of the match.

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