Captain’s treble not enough as champions edged out
HENLEY HAWKS were edged out in a see-saw match against Dorking at Dry Leas on Saturday
HENLEY HAWKS were edged out in a see-saw match against Dorking at Dry Leas on Saturday in a game that saw the lead change hands four times in the first 50 minutes and the result being in doubt until the dying seconds of the game.
In the final match of the season, played out in front of a crowed of 865, both teams showed signs of nervousness in the first half with mistakes making it difficult to put pressure on their opponents.
The Hawks settled down the better and took the lead with an unconverted try after 18 minutes with centre George Eastwell gliding through in the Dorking 22 to touch down.
Dorking struck back immediately when they were awarded a penalty near the Hawks’ posts which centre Matt Noble turned into three points. His 100 per cent accurate place kicking was an important factor in the Surrey side’s victory as he slotted over seven kicks — five conversions and two penalties — which with a second half try gave him a decisive match total of 21 points.
The Hawks had the better of the first half as their lively wings Lloyd Owen and Jake Randall caused a strong Dorking defence a few problems and the visitors conceded a penalty under pressure which fly-half Comben converted to put the champions ahead. When skipper Dave Clements touched down the first of a trio of tries the Hawks were, with the conversion, 15-3 ahead but just before the interval Dorking centre Ryan Jeffery caught the Hawks defence awry which reduced the score to 15-10.
Within minutes of the restart fly-half Cameron Pimlow gave the visitors a 17-15 lead. The ding-dong nature of the game was a feature when Clements led the comeback with his second try and the Hawks lead was restored at 22-17.
However, the Hawks were not in control of the game as they were then hit by two tries in seven minutes, first by Will Crow kicking through a loose ball from near half way and sweeping through a stranded defence to be followed by Jon Vermont crashing over to make the score 31-22.
It was with this try, scored whilst Hawks’ Matt Payne was off the field having been given a yellow card, that referee Alexis Manley’s many issued cards had an influence on the result of the game
It looked as if the game was running away from the Hawks but they restored hope by engineering Clements’ third try with a drive over the Dorking line whilst lock Matt Higgins was in the sin bin. This reduced the deficit to 31-27. However Noble was given the opportunity to kick a straightforward penalty to stretch Dorking’s lead to 34-27. The Hawks resilience was evident, as in many games this season, when all seemed lost, when Nathan Taylor was driven over for the Hawks’ fifth try with the second row still absent. The game turned against the Hawks when Noble had cashed in on a Hawks handling error when a pass went to ground, in an encouraging attack to make the score 41-27. Henley hit back with Taylor scoring a converted try to reduce the arrears to 41-34 and make the chance of a draw a possibility.
This became perhaps a probability when Dorking’s Higgins was sent off for incurring a second yellow card offence, turning to red.
The Hawks were now pressing hard a few metres out and in this the desperate situation for Dorking the Hawks were hovering over their line. The Hawks believed that they would earn a draw if the referee awarded a penalty try, which was a distinct possibility, but he failed to go with their view as the hosts suffered a narrow home defeat for the second successive week.
Henley Hawks: 15 Tom Allen, 14 Lloyd Owen, 13 Fred Pierrepoint, 12 George Eastwell (Mark Bruce, 72 mins), 11 Jake Randall, 10 James Comben, 9 Mark Bruce (Tom Gardner, 61 mins), 1 Hugo Milford-Scott (Tim Coghlan, 53 mins), 2 Stuart Philpott (Nathan Taylor, 46 mins), 3 Dave Manning, 4 Dave Clements (Rob Stapley, 65 mins), 5 Will Woodward (Jake O’Leary, 58 mins), 6 Matt Payne, 7 Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas, 8 Rob Stapley (Tom Hall, 46 mins).