Saturday, 20 August 2022

Rally comes too late as Henley lose out in final

DESPITE a determined second half comeback Henley College were unable to overhaul Prince Henry’s, Otley, in this AASE plate final

DESPITE a determined second half comeback Henley College were unable to overhaul Prince Henry’s, Otley, in this AASE plate final held at Saracens’ Allianz Park last week.

The two sides looked to be evenly matched both having finished third in their respective pools during the regular season and by comfortably winning their semi-finals the previous week.

In the first couple of minutes Prince Henry’s crossed in the corner but Conor Corrigan’s tackle knocked the ball from his opponents grasp as he crossed the line. Henley were then able to relieve this early pressure and having established some good field position themselves, took the lead through a Dan Barnes penalty.

This score looked to have calmed some early nerves but Prince Henry’s soon hit back with a try from a catch and drive and quickly extended their lead to 8-3 with a simple penalty kick.

Having settled into their patterns Henley started to string together some good phases of play but too often these came to nothing due to unforced errors such as a forward pass or knock on.

When they did get close to their opponents’ line Prince Henry’s fine goal line defence held firm despite some powerful surges from Henley forwards Shek Sheriff and Bradley Scharff. Prince Henry’s landed a second penalty to lead 11-3 at the break.

The second half started in much the same way with Henley enjoying a slight advantage in terms of territory and possession but unable to capitalise on this.

Henley looked to have conceded a hammer blow when Prince Henry’s capitalised on a missed tackle down the left wing, they took full advantage as their fly half went over two phases later to score next to the posts. The simple conversion put them two scores clear, 18-3, with a quarter of the game remaining.

The rolling subs law has worked heavily in Henley’s favour in recent matches allowing them to inject more pace and power from the bench at this stage of the game.

Henley reintroduced four impact players after this score and this looked to have had the desired effect when they finally found a hole in Prince Henry’s defence through a nicely executed set piece move that allowed Corrigan to score under the posts.

Almost immediately Henley were back in the red zone thanks to an interception on halfway by Barnes, a few phases later Ian Brown powered his way over from short range to further reduce the arrears to 15-18. With momentum in their favour and seven minutes remaining Henley looked as though they could pull off one of their trademark comebacks, but it wasn’t to be as they coughed up the ball trying to play out of their own half and Prince Henry’s sealed the win with a last minute try and conversion.

Much of Prince Henry’s recent success has been built on a rock solid set piece, their entire front row having represented England U18 at various points during the season. However, Henley’s front row of George Dutton, Ian Brown, Craig Parker and replacement George Hayes matched their opposite numbers in all aspects of this game.

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