Vital win maintains Hawks’ hopes of avoiding the drop
HENLEY HAWKS go into the last match of the season with their destiny in their own hands after defeating Loughborough Students 22-11 at Dry Leas on Saturday.
The home match against fellow strugglers Loughborough was billed as a game which may well decide which of the two sides could be in National 2 (South) next season.
As the game developed it produced entertaining rugby, particularly in the first half, and although the result was so important it was not a tense affair.
The Hawks found their defence tested at the start of the game with the nippy Loughborough backs thrusting into their territory but the hosts tackled hard and kept them at bay. The resultant pressure led to the award of a penalty against the Hawks in front of their posts for a scrum offence which the Students’ fly-half Sam Katz converted to give them a 3-0 lead after five minutes.
The Hawks were finding it difficult to gain possession but started to correct this through the hard driving play of their forwards. Skipper Matt Payne started to lead his forwards into producing what could be considered their best play of the season. Ably supported by the rest of the pack, but particularly locks Dave Clements — in this 100th game for the club — and Josh McNally plus his back row colleagues Ryan Newman and Robbie Stapley, they combined well with the ball in hand and their offloading was some of the best they had produced this campaign.