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Monday, 16 December 2019
HENLEY HAWKS produced a remarkable turnaround on Saturday to produce an emphatic result against one of the fancied sides in the league.
It was all looking rather dismal for the Hawks at half time as they went in thirteen points down and not really threatening to challenge the hosts in any way.
The Hawks struggled to get a foothold in the first half, compounding errors and lacking any creativity and penetration which allowed the hosts to have the majority of the territory and possession.
Esher pressurised the visitors in nearly all facets of the game particularly at the breakdown where a lethargic Henley side were constantly penalised for infringements.
Even when the visitors managed to gain possession it was either turned over or they made unforced errors which was leading to frustration all round. This resulted in two penalties being converted and Esher taking an early 10 point lead after 15 minutes.
Worse was to come as a penalty advantage to the hosts was played through multiple phases for the second row to crash through under the posts, an easy conversion produced a 13-0 score line after only 25 minutes.
To Henley’s credit they kept Esher at bay for the rest of the half but were still struggling to work any consistency into the game. As the half time whistle went it was difficult to see how this would be rectified and improved in the second half.
The answer came after just seven minutes when after constant pressure on the Esher line Marcus Lowe crashed through close to the posts to spark the revival. Ben Bolster kicked the easy conversion and it was game on with the score 13-7 in Esher’s favour.
The rest of the half was a fantastic display of ruthless attacking rugby as the Hawks came into their own and totally dominated a shell shocked Esher side.
The attacks were relentless moving the ball with accuracy and determination which had been missing early on. The forwards were now dominating the set piece and the break down, which had been so disappointing in the first half, was now a source of quality quick ball. This allowed Ben Bolster at fly half to orchestrate proceedings and create openings for forwards and backs alike. In addition this was wearing Esher down as they struggled to get their hands on the ball. Inevitably this led to a number of penalties being conceded. This allowed Henley to play a high tempo game which was breathless at times. With the forwards now in dominant mood their powerful driving maul came into play and Samir Kharbouch was able to touch down after 10 minutes and with Bolster converting Henley were now in the lead and they never looked back. A further Bolster penalty extended the lead and then further scores were added by Brad Cook and David Hyde got the all-important bonus point try following a series of powerful drives. Bolster added one further conversion.
The hosts were now exhausted after having defended for almost half an hour. The icing on the cake came as Tom Emery crossed for Bolster to convert. The last five minutes saw Esher trying desperately to run from their own line only to meet a Henley side determined not to allow them through.
A truly remarkable second half performance which now closes the gap with Taunton and Tonbridge at the top of the table. If Henley can replicate this performance in the coming games they will certainly be building momentum towards the second half of the season.
Henley Hawks: Norvill, Robinson, Kharbouch, Burrage, Wood, Bolster, Fenley, Cook, Emery, Hughes, Lunnon, Albon, Lowe, Bordill, Bradley. Replacements all used: Hyde, Primett, Mason, Andre, O’Neill.
02 December 2019
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