Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Fifth defeat leaves Hawks in drop zone

HENLEY HAWKS slipped to their fifth consecutive defeat at home to Fylde on Saturday with a

HENLEY HAWKS slipped to their fifth consecutive defeat at home to Fylde on Saturday with a performance that could threaten keeping their National league 1 status.

The opening exchanges were even and included more than five minutes of continuous play where both teams tried to show their intent of keeping the ball in hand at every opportunity.

Matt Payne, out of retirement, was outstanding for the home side with good support from Billy Moss and debutant Rob Bell. However, it was Fylde who showed the positive intent when they could and were rewarded after 12 minutes when livewire wing Anthony Bingham broke a tackle to score, Chris Johnson converted to give the visitors a lead that they were never to lose.

With the Hawks regularly feeling the wrath of the referee early on, Fylde centre Scot Rawlings was a constant threat and the visitors made regular inroads into Hawks territory as the home struggled to gain any consistency.

Following a Henley attacking line-out, things got heated just before the break which resulted in a harsh red card for Fylde’s Ben Vernon and a yellow for Henley’s Billy Moss.

From the resulting penalty, the Hawks used their most potent attacking weapon this season, the driving line-out as virtually the whole team produced a great drive for Charlie Davey to drop over the line for the Hawks’ first try. James Comben was unable to convert.

With the Hawks seemingly back in the game, there was all to play for, but another lack of concentration from the Hawks at the breakdown allowed Fylde to add to their lead with a Johnson penalty to lead 10-5 at the break.

In the second half the Hawks lacked any conviction in their attacking creativity and with the Fylde forwards exerting pressure, Johnson extended the visitors’ lead with a penalty.

A period of possession for the Hawks allowed Comben to reduce the arrears with a penalty of his own before Johnson again extended Fylde’s lead when the Hawks were penalised again at the breakdown.

As the Fylde forwards gradually got the better of the home eight, Rawlings broke through some weak defence to be held up just short of the Hawks’ line. From the resulting scrum, and with the Fylde forwards in control, the referee awarded a penalty try to the visitors which in effect sealed the game. Johnson again converted.

Henley tried to show some urgency after this and enjoyed more possession as they tried to put pressure on the visitors’ defence. After Fylde were reduced to 13 men when Simon Griffiths was awarded a yellow card, Henley eventually crossed for a try after a series of drives, with Rob Bell emerging as scorer to cap a fine debut. Comben converted. With time running out, the Hawks continued to press with good charges from Payne and Tom Emery but poor handling meant there was no fluidity from the Hawks and this allowed Fylde to defend with relative ease. With the game well into injury time, the Hawks forwards won another penalty in front of the posts to allow Comben to add three points and despite defeat, give the home side a vital bonus point.

Henley Hawks: 15 Jake Randall, 14 Xavier Andre, 13 Fred Pierrepoint, 12 Jack Bradford, 11 Simon Perry (James Davies, 76 mins), 10 James Comben, 9 James Helliwell, 1 Dave Manning, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Billy Moss (Henry Sandys, 69 mins), 4 Dave Clements, 5 Charlie Davey, 6 Sam Richardson, 7 Rob Bell, 8 Matt Payne. Replacements: 17 Will Woodward, 18 Ed. Church, 19 Oliver Spanswick.

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