JAMES COMBEN kicked 11 points as the Hawks took another step closer to securing the league title and promotion to Division 1
Redruth 13 - Henley Hawks 28
JAMES COMBEN kicked 11 points as the Hawks took another step closer to securing the league title and promotion to Division 1.
Redruth are always difficult to play against at the Recreation Ground and this was only their second defeat there this season.
The Hawks were on top from the start and they had the majority of possession and territorial dominance throughout.
This was built on another strong performance of their pack especially establishing opportunities to establish their authority through driving mauls.
It was supported by the powerful pace of their backs and a maturing performance by Tom Allen in the unaccustomed roll of scrum-half.
In the opening minutes Allen was able to make a couple of breaks which kept the Cornish back row on the alert for the rest of the game. This was backed up by an outstanding performance at number eight of Hirskyj -Douglas whose pace and strength in breaking tackle left the Reds pack scattered in a trail behind them.
This start to the game put the Hawks close to the Redruth line and, what is now a trademark to their game, the driving maul enabled the pack to support skipper Dave Clements as he drove over the whitewash to touch down. Comben, who was in good kicking form, was unlucky when his conversion attempt hit the far upright leaving the score a 5-0.
The Hawks were keen to use their backs but some promising moves were frustrated by a couple of forward passes. Although Redruth were not able to put pressure on the Hawks defensive line they did open their scoring after 25 minutes with a penalty from 40 metres by full back Rory Westren. The Hawks stretched their lead to 11-3 when Comben countered with a similar effort after 33 minutes.
The Hawks faced a revitalised Redruth after the half-time break and flanker Kyle Marriot was driven over for an unconverted try to close the gap to 11-8 after the Hawks failed to control the restart kick-off, a weakness for much of the season.
The Hawks responded with the best move of the game. A swift passing movement across the backs put left wing Jake Randall in possession 10 metres inside his own half. He then accelerated away and through powerful running, stepping though tackles, was able to touch down after beating four would be tacklers. Comben converted with a fine kick from close to the touch line.
The Hawks continued to have most of the possession and in search of a try bonus point turned down three penalty attempts to try to establish driving mauls from the resultant lineouts.
Unfortunately three lineout throws were not gathered despite good positions close to the Reds line following accurate kicks from Comben, He did however succeed with an attempt for goal after a powerful surge by Robbie Stapley, a replacement in the back row, to make the score 21-8
The game swung back to Redruth when, in a rare counter attack, they moved the ball wide down the left wing and the former Pirates captain Rhodri McAtee used his experience to make the most of the opportunity to touch down.
With 15 minutes of the game to go and the score at 21-13 the Hawks drove ahead into ?hell fire corner? traditionally where for a number of years Redruth launched attacks to win games.
However, on this occasion the biter was bit for the Hawks pressure was such that the Reds eight illegally dragged down the Hawks pack as it went for the line, Referee Chris Ridley awarded a penalty try much to the dismay of the vociferous local support behind the posts. The conversion by James Comben brought his total match points to 11 and the game score to 28-13.
The Hawks maintain a lead of 15 points at the top of the league, with four games to play with Bishops Stortford now second.
With no game at the weekend their next one is at home to Shelford which are second from bottom of the league. Not a game for Hawks' supporters to miss with just a bonus point needed to see them crowned champions ? the second time in three years.
Henley Hawks: 15 Ed Yarnton (Tom Gardner 59), 14 Simon Perry, 13 Fred Pierrepoint, 12 George Eastwell, 11 Jake Randall, 10 James Comben, 9 Tom Allen, 1 Hugo Milford Scott (Tom West 40), 2 Nick Gardner, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Dave Clements (capt. Jake O'Leary 60), 5 Will Westwood (Robbie Stapley 50 ), 6 Matt Payne (Tom Hall 75), 7 Gus Jones, 8 Oskar Hirskyj ? Douglas.