Saturday, 31 October 2020

Venner wraps up scoring as Vikings ease to home win

HENLEY VIKINGS, undeterred by Storm Dennis and playing almost level with the rising River Thames on Fawley Meadows last Saturday, ran out winners against a robust High Wycombe 2nds in their Wadworth BBO fixture.

It was Henley who set the early pace and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the Wycombe posts. After opting for a scrum, Henley’s number eight Richard Webb broke from the back and after forging through Wycombe’s defence, offloaded to scrum-half Michael Molloy who went through to score. The conversion by fly-half Sam Quelch brought Henley’s early score to 7-0.

Playing against the wind in this first half Wycombe chose to kick long on several occasions but were unable to keep up with the ball as it was carried by the wind too far and too fast away from them and on each occasion it was safely gathered by Henley’s fullback Luke Rosier who quickly carried the ball back to Henley’s advantage. Henley mostly kept the ball in hand and countered with some fine running play and remarkably good hands given the blustery conditions. It was a mark of Henley’s kicker Quelch’s confidence that with a Henley break to the right, he tried a cross-field kick, catching Wycombe’s defence off-guard. The pace of Henley’s right wing Ali Hughes was simply too much and he went over to score.

The blustery, rainy conditions failed to deter Quelch, who again slotted a fine conversion to give his side a 14-0 lead.

Wycombe struggled to gain any real ground and their own attacks were met with resilient defence by Henley, with locks Chris Norton and Fred Clifford preventing any Wycombe attack in succeeding and then countering through both back rows Craig Johnston and newcomer Keanu Brouard.

After several attempts at crashing through Wycombe’s forwards’ defence, with Charlie Chavasse displaying his pirouetting style of going forward, it was his fellow Henley prop, Dan Folley, who crashed through to score. Quelch again converted bringing the score to 21-0.

As half-time approached Henley gave away a series of penalties for some deft handiwork in the ruck. The referee’s warnings were not heeded and just before the break, Henley’s Molloy found himself visiting the sin-bin.

As a result, Henley started the second half with just 14 players on the field. Henley’s backs maintained their solid handling with few passes going to ground unlike Wycombe who frequently succumbed to the slippery conditions with dropped ball on their own attacks. The Henley centre partnership of Duncan Zachs and Lewes Collins prevented any incursion through Henley’s lines, and it was Zachs who found a gap in Wycombe’s defence to score with Quelch’s kick going wide for the first time. As Molloy returned to the field from the sin bin, Henley were now comfortably ahead by 26-0.

Against the run of play, Wycombe now mustered enough strength to score themselves with an unconverted try but were quickly undone by Henley’s Quelch running through Wycombe’s now dispirited defence to score himself.

Conditions were now worsening and Quelch’s own kick at goal struggled to get off the ground. Henley’s Webb found himself now visiting the sin-bin after one too many challenges to the referee but undeterred, Henley’s stalwart, Mark Venner, coming off the bench, failed initially to score in the corner and then forced over Wycombe’s line to bring the final score to 36-5 in Henley’s favour.

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