Thursday, 11 August 2022

Hawks move clear at the top

HENLEY HAWKS got the New Year off to a flying start by showing the kind of form that has taken them to the top of the league

Henley Hawks 50, Lydney 5

HENLEY HAWKS got the New Year off to a flying start by showing the kind of form that has taken them to the top of the league as they scored 50 points against Lydney at Dry Leas on Saturday.

The hosts added six tries in the second half to the pair they scored in the first which put them 12-5 ahead at the interval.

The Hawks took the lead after only two minutes when skipper Dave Clements collected an accurate line out throw by hooker George Edgson, supported by a surge by the rest of the Hawks pack.

The good sized crowd in the rainy overcast conditions were anticipating a handsome victory over the Forest of Dean side positioned 11th in Division 2 South. This did not immediately follow.

The Hawks were disrupted by a injury to flanker Tom Steindler who had to leave the field with a dislocated shoulder seven minutes into his first team debut to be replaced by another debutant, Jake O?Leary, who stepped into his usual position of second row with Will Woodward completing the resultant shuffle in the back row as blind side flanker.

At this stage of the game scrum-half Connor Murphy seemed to be close to the ball where ever play went and was quick to set the Hawks on the attack through tapped penalties.

The Hawks play at this stage could be best described as stuttering for they were penalised four times in five minutes by referee Gareth Holscgrove which meant play was largely in the home 22 area. It was from this position that the visitors launched a backs movement which to some extent surprised the Hawks as centre Josh Innes broke through and scored near the posts. The score remained at 5-5 as Lydney kicker Tony Wicks was unable to convert as the ball fell off the kicking key before he could make contact.

After this the Hawks came into the game using their swift running backs to stretch the Lydney defence and none did this more than fullback Piers O?Conor. When in possession 35 metres from the Lydney line he scored a try with a swerving run off both feet to put the Hawks 12-5 in the lead with James Comben?s conversion after 17 minutes.

O?Conor repeated such skilful running, some times being put in possession by Lydney?s clearance kicks, showing ability to beat would-be tacklers by sidestep, swerve and strong hand-off. However, the Hawks could not develop sufficient continuity to add to their score at half-time.

Although they were handicapped by an injury to Murphy more or less on the half-time whistle, the Hawks took charge of possession on the restart. They switched the emphasis of their attacks immediately to the forwards who had already showed superiority in set scrums and now picked and drove with two surges down the left from line outs which resulted in prop Jimmy Litchfield being driven over for a try to make the score 17-5 three minutes into the half.

Such was the dominance of the Hawks pack that the Lydney pack then conceded a penalty try by collapsing a scrum after 49 minutes. The conversion of this try took the score to 24-5.

Hawks? progress in building a considerable margin of victory was given a jolt when skipper Dave Clements was given a yellow card for careless use of a boot in a ruck. This did not hamper the Hawks despite also being without a regular scrum-half as Tom Allen had come off the bench to give a good service to the backs and the resultant momentum saw the hosts launch attacks down the left to allow Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas to pick up and drive over for his sixth try of the season to make the score 31-5.

This was followed by a fine individual try for lock Jake O?Leary. Being put in possession from a loose maul in the Hawks half he proceeded to stagger the visitors cover by running 55 metres at a pace they could not match to touch down near the posts for Comben to kick a difficult conversion to make the score 36-5.

Lydney were now out on their feet as hooker George Edgson picked up a ball from a melee to score and this was converted by Comben as was the final try was scored by replacement wing Jake Randall, who ran down the left a distance comparable to that achieved by O?Leary.

With second placed Dorking losing at home to Chinnor, the Hawks moved four points clear at the top of the table.

Henley Hawks: 15 Piers O?Conor, 14 Andre Xavier, 13 Fred Pierrepoint, 12 George Eastwell, 11 Lloyd Owen, (Jake Randall, 75 mins) 10 James Comben, 9 Connor Murphy (Tom Allen, 39 mins), 1 Hugo Milford Scott (Dave Manning, 64 mins), 2 George Edgson, 3 Jimmy Litchfield (Tim Coghlan, 64 mins), 4 Dave Clements, 5 Will Woodward, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Tom Stendler (Jake O?Leary, 7 mins) 8 Oskar Hirskyj- Douglas.

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