O’Neill and Andre grab trebles as Hawks blow Redruth away
PROMOTION-chasing Henley Hawks were aware that the Cornish side, which had lost their last four matches, would still strive to
PROMOTION-chasing Henley Hawks were aware that the Cornish side, which had lost their last four matches, would still strive to provide rugged opposition in the hope that a return to winning form may give them an outside chance of securing second place in the league and a play-off place for promotion.
In the event they were blown away last Saturday by a Hawks team who took full advantage of a dry pitch in sunny conditions to play the fast open game which is the core of their success this season.
From the start they signalled their intention by swarming over the opposition. They opened the scoring after two minutes with a penalty from in front of the posts and went on to run in 10 tries.
This was established by almost non-stop running and handling by their forwards with locks Josh McNally and Dave Clements marauding well to crash through tackles. These were supported by the back row with Matt Payne returning to top form having recovered from the ankle injury that has seen him sidelined for five weeks and the remorseless energy of number eight Robbie Stapley.
With this superiority, also in line-outs and scrummaging, the Hawks were able to release their backs whose speed Redruth found difficult to cope with.
The backs were well served by the burgeoning combination at halfback of Luke Carter (scrum half) and Will Robinson (fly half) whose distribution gave the three quarters space to find holes in the visitors’ defence.
The hosts had to settle down to take full advantage of the opportunities they created with occasional unforced errors letting Redruth off the hook.
From the start it was obvious that left wing Briggs was on fire with his pace and elusive running and after 14 minutes this led to the Hawks’ first try when fullback Liam O’Neill was on hand to support him and touch down to make the score 10-0 thanks to the first of Robinson’s six conversions.
This was the first of O’Neill’s hat-trick of tries and was soon followed by the first of a trio by Xavier Andre using his pace to get him on the score board for the first time since recovering from a foot injury which kept him out of the team for a month, making the score 17-0.
The forwards, having established the Hawks’ control of the game, were rewarded in the shape of a try by Payne who was on hand to finish off a burst by Robinson to make the half-time score 24-0.
The Hawks continued in the same vein after the interval and having once more secured the restart kick, a much improved feature of their game, skipper Martin Nutt showed his pace to create an opportunity for Andre to score his second try three minutes after the restart. Securing the desired bonus point try took the score to 31-0.
The electric pace of O’Neill from fullback was now creating holes in the Redruth defence and a break from half-way was supported by Carter who scored.
Three further tries followed in the space of seven minutes. The first by Briggs whom Redruth continued difficult to hold and then two to complete the hat-trick by O’Neill. The first of these came from an opening by Nutt whose strong running the visitors found difficult to contain. The best score for the fullback came when he was put way on half-way and went on to score.
The match was now 60 minutes old and the Hawks led 60-0. By this time they had used all their replacements and with Carter retired to the bench the versatile Tom Allen took over at scrum half.
As in recent games the Hawks lost their rhythm with a flood of replacements and as a result the Reds established themselves in the Hawks’ half and were able to create tries for replacement flanker Neil Broadbank, fullback Tom Hotman and on the final whistle Ashley Hoskins who converted two of the touchdowns.
The Hawks did score their tenth and final try in the midst of this Redruth comeback when for the first and only time in the game they used the power of their pack to put in a strong mauling 25-metre drive for Payne to score.
Henley Hawks: 15 Liam O’Neill, 14 Xavier Andre, 13 Martin Nutt, 12 Thomas Allen, 11 Richard Briggs, 10 Will Robinson, 9 Luke Carter, 1 Hugo Milford-Scott, 2 Nathan Morris, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Dave Clements, 5 Josh McNally, 6 Matt Payne, 7 Liam Dwyer, 8 Robbie Stapley. Replacements: 16 Dai Maddocks, 17 James Hadfield, 18 James Winterbottom, 19 Neil Baggett, 20 Rupert Crossland.