Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Plymouth Albion’s first-half dominance proves decisive

HENLEY HAWKS’ abysmal recent form continued as they were swept aside by a young Plymouth side

HENLEY HAWKS’ abysmal recent form continued as they were swept aside by a young Plymouth side showing signs of recovery after relegation from the Championship last season.

The match was lost in the first 40 minutes during which Henley conceded five tries, four of which were converted. During this half the Hawks could only muster a single penalty goal response.

The Devon side got off to a cracking start scoring a converted try by fly-half Billy Searle after just three minutes.

This came from a movement started in their own half and became a scoring opportunity when inside centre Mark Koteczy brushed aside a weak tackle by his opposite number putting Searle clear with no covering defence in sight. Young fullback Tom Putt, in his debut season in senior rugby, added the conversion. Putt was in fine form kicking 11 points from three further conversions and a penalty during the course of the game.

This break away score was typical of the first quarter of the game as three further tries quickly followed. Each came from an Albion side now full of confidence to take advantage of good handling and swift running against a lethargic Hawks defence which gave the impression that they had not got the energy to put in effective tackles.



These tries were scored by wing Tom Bedford after the Hawks failed to gather a cross kick and Ethan Ford took advantage of the hosts who were dilatory in dealing with a restart kick and Putt taking his tally to 16 points.

For the past three seasons the Hawks have had the best defensive records in whatever league they were in but at present it is not well organised, as in this game on several occasions there was no cover on the blind side of set scrums.

James Comben put the Hawks on the scoreboard during this onslaught with a penalty. The Hawks did come into the game more in the second quarter and used the driving maul effectively to make progress to the Albion line but their pack, which had also had some advantage in the set scrum, prevailed.

The Hawks had two chances to close the deficit of 26-3 from penalties in front of the posts but shunned them preferring to kick to touch and hopefully drive over the line. The Albion pack, with two tall locks, denied them. With opportunities not developed Plymouth cashed in on some weak tackling which allowed Searle to run his second try which with the conversion made the score 33-3 at half-time.

The second half saw a much livelier approach to the game by the Hawks and the third quarter saw the game played almost entirely in the Albion half.

The Hawks made the Albion defence work harder both from handling movements and forward mauling and driving.

The most successful of the latter took the Hawks 35 metres close to the Albion line and they were unlucky to not to have been awarded a penalty try or at least a yellow card for dragging down the maul but prop Ollie Dawe did receive one later for blocking release of the ball.

The Hawks were unable to take advantage of an additional man in the scrum. Their best chance of scoring a try came from an exciting run of 40 metres by Lloyd Owen.

However, like a number of promising Hawks offensives, this did not create true scoring chances as they lacked finishing power. They were not able to put the Plymouth defence under sustained pressure although Connor Murphy, at scrum-half after the break, sniped away around the scrum to keep the Plymouth defence honest.

The only score in the second half was a penalty by Putt that made the final score 36-3.

Despite the Hawks defeat they did not lose 11th place in the league as none of the clubs in the lower positions won.

Henley Hawks: 15 Liam O’Neill, 14 Lloyd Owen, 13 Fred Pierrepoint, 12 Tom Allen (Jack Bradford, 40 mins), 11 Simon Perry, 10 James Comben, 9 James Helliwell (Connor Murphy, 52 mins), 1 Tom West (Harry Jackson, 61 mins), 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Will Woodward (Ed Church, 45 mins), 5 Charles Davey, 6 Dave Clements, 7 Tom Hall (Will Woodward, 62 mins), 8 Robbie Stapley (Iwan Davies, 35 mins).



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