Monday, 15 August 2022

Late try earns side share of spoils at Ampthill

HENLEY HAWKS shared the spoils at Ampthill in a game which could have gone either way last Saturday.

HENLEY HAWKS shared the spoils at Ampthill in a game which could have gone either way last Saturday.

The home side stood at the top of National Division 1 going into this game with a 100 per cent record having secured maximum points from their previous three matches played. However, they did not anticipate a Henley side determined to secure a better performance after the disappointment against Blackheath the previous week.

Henley got off to the worst possible start as home side centre Joseph Tarrant carved a huge hole through the midfield to score under the posts after seven minutes and with the conversion the visitors were adrift without really establishing themselves in the game.

The Hawks gradually worked their way up field with a series of concerted drives and strong running. A good kick into the corner from James Comben after a series of infringements from the home side set up their first attacking line-out after 20 minutes. A characteristic catch and drive saw an effective maul being dragged down illegally three metres from the try line. This could have been interpreted as a penalty try but instead the referee chose to award a penalty which James Comben duly converted.

Henley were now back in the game and continued to pressurise. The powerful home side pack had been repelled on several occasions from good attacking positions and so they were now forced to go for penalty kicks which they missed.

The game ebbed and flowed but never really developed the continuity need for any side to dominate as many handling errors from both sides compounded the stop start nature of the game.

Henley started the second half brightly enough but a turnover ball was well worked to winger Dean Adamson who chipped the defence and won the race to the touchdown. Once again an easy conversion from winger Elliot Clements-Hill gave an early 14-3 lead to the hosts.

At this stage Henley could have caved in under pressure as they were having a difficult time in the scrums but determination with some powerful runs from Robbie Stapley and Tom Hall kept the pressure on the home side. This pressure enabled the Hawks to claw their way back into the game with two well taken penalties from Comben.

At 14-9 it was game on and Henley now had their brightest period as the pack drove relentlessly into the heart of the opposition. This coupled with some shrewd kicking from Comben enabled the visitors to set an attacking maul 10 metres from the try line. The throw was good and Jake Albon was driven over for the equalling score but unfortunately the conversion was missed.

Ampthill were now reduced to 13 men for repeated infringement. A carbon copy line-out 10 minutes from time might have brought victory for the visitors but Ampthill were able to clear their lines.

With time running out the home side laid siege to the Hawks line but some sterling defence and line-out work saw the visitors hold out for a deserved draw.

Henley Hawks: 15 Liam O’Neill, 14 Simon Perry, 13 Tom Allen, 12 Jack Bradford, 11 Elliott Cox, 10 James Comben, 9 James Halliwell, 1. Tom West (Henry Sandys, 66 mins), 2 Tom Emery (Curtis Langdon, 52 mins), 3 Dave Manning (Tom West, 78 mins), 4 Dave Clements (Charlie Davey, 45 mins), 5 Jake Albon, 6 Julian Watkins (Sam Richardson, 30 mins), 7 Tom Hall, 8. Robbie Stapley.

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