Sunday, 15 December 2019

Henley Hawks left reeling after squandering second half lead

Henley Hawks left reeling after squandering second half lead

IT was disappointment for Henley Hawks on Saturday as they succumbed to a try in the dying seconds that gave Clifton victory in a tight game at Dry Leas.

Yet again the game was played in driving rain throughout, something that the Hawks failed to deal with when it mattered. They squandered a 17-3 lead in the second half in a game they should have won comfortably.

However, as well as the conditions, the Hawks had to deal with a good, robust Clifton side who were up for the challenge, especially in the second period.

It was the Hawks who started better and dominated the first half hour, keeping Clifton pinned in their own half. The forwards took the game to the Bristol side with the back row of Will Bordill, Marcus Lowe and Sam Lunnon dominating the loose and making plenty of inroads into the Clifton defence. Xavier Andre looked sharp and Ben Bolster kicked well to keep the Hawks in Clifton territory. It took the Hawks 20 minutes to finally break the stubborn Clifton defence. A penalty was kicked into the corner and Marcus Lowe finished off the first of three tries scored from driving mauls.

Henley continued to put pressure on the visitors and a Bolster kick put the Hawks in another good position. Dave Hyde and Sam Lunnon made good yards in the loose before winning a penalty which was again kicked to the corner. Another driving maul was finished off, this time by hooker Tom Emery, a try which Ben Bolster converted.

It took Clifton over half an hour to venture in the Hawks half but the pressure they created resulted in a Brad Barnes penalty meaning the Hawks took a 12-3 lead into the break.

The Hawks started the second half with good purpose with Hyde and Emery making good progress in the loose. For the third time, a penalty resulted in a line out close to the Clifton line and Tom Emery crossed for his second try, finishing off another driving maul.

At 17-3, it looked as though the Hawks would go on to win comfortably but Clifton had other ideas and Dixon reduced the arrears with his second penalty. There were some ferocious exchanges at the breakdown and the visitors gradually began to get momentum. The Hawks were their own worst enemy at times and were guilty of some wayward kicking and poor game management.

The visitors upped their game and after some good pressure from the Clifton forwards, Dan Broady picked up from the ruck and broke some weak Hawks tackles to score under the posts. Dixon converted.

The Hawks briefly threatened when Hyde won a line out and a good drive led by Emery put the home side in a threatening position. However, in a carbon copy moment from the game against Redruth a few weeks ago, the Hawks ran the ball but the attack broke down in midfield and they were penalised for holding on.

The visitors could sense victory and from the resulting penalty, cleared, and then worked their way into the Hawks 22. Despite some desperate defending by the home side, Clifton hooker Luke Stratford crashed over for the winning try. Dixon converted to end a miserable afternoon for the Hawks.

Henley Hawks: Liam O’Neill (Connor Morrison, 69 mins), Reuben Norville, Xavier Andre (Samir Kharbouch, 69 mins), Alex Burrage, George Wood, Ben Bolster, Ewan Fenley, Charlie Hughes (Rory Mason, 63 mins), Tom Emery, Brad Cook (George Primett, 54 mins), Jake Albon, Dave Hyde, Marcus Lowe (Scott White, 67 mins), Sam Lunnon, Will Bordill.

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