HENLEY HAWKS broke the sequence of seven successive defeats with a well deserved victory over Cinderford at Dry
HENLEY HAWKS broke the sequence of seven successive defeats with a well deserved victory over Cinderford at Dry Leas last Saturday.
Prior to the game Cinderford were one position and one point above basement side Henley Hawks in the league. After the match the Hawks have risen to third from bottom with Cinderford slipping to the foot of the table.
The match was a keenly contested game with the score 10-8 in favour of the Hawks at half-time.
Almost for the first time this season the backs featured in their scoring recording three of their five tries whilst the other two came from driving mauls which have dominated the Hawks scoring this season.
The Hawks made a bright start moving the ball well with new fly-half Ben Palmer injecting pace into their handling and moving the ball wide after prop Billy Moss burst through on to a flat pass and when this was transferred quickly to left wing Jake Randall he drove strongly through the Cinderford defence to put the Hawks 5-0 ahead after just two minutes. The Hawks continued to stretch the visitors’ defence but having come close to scoring a second try they may well have gone further ahead had Palmer been able to slot home a penalty from 30 metres to the right of the posts.
Play then moved into the Hawks’ half and they were not able to develop a dominance of possession. At this juncture the Hawks pack struggled to get firm control in the scrums or in the lineouts where they lost a couple of their own throw-ins.
Cinderford were not able to create scoring opportunities until James Moffat was able to kick a straightforward penalty to reduce the Hawks’ lead to 5-3 after 20 minutes.
The Hawks retaliated within five minutes when in pressing in the visitors’ 22 they were able to set up a driving maul which presented flanker Rob Bell with the opportunity to score the first of a brace of tries which again was not converted.
The Hawks looked as if they would have a 10-3 lead at half-time but this was not to be as the visitors’ most dangerous runner winger Nevaro Codlin was put in possession on the Hawks’ 22 and he used his pace to shoot through a wrong-footed Henley defence to make the score 10-8 at the interval.
The start of the second half witnessed a continuance of an unstructured game with neither side able to develop a pattern of play.
Hawks’ new signing Basil Strand featured with lengthy punting and showed running skills which levered open the Foresters’ defence but this did not build into scoring possibilities. It was left to Liam O’Neill to create the Hawks’ third try when he was put in possession in the clear on half-way to use his speed and guile to run through the visitors’ defence from the Hawks’ 10 metre line after 47 minutes to touch down towards the left hand touch. Palmer was able to convert to give the Hawks a more comfortable 17-8 lead.
Strang followed this with a 40 metre dash from fullback which promised a further score but he was robbed in a tackle. The Hawks pack increased their lead by an impressive 30 metre driving maul which finished with the navigator of such ploys, Rob Bell, scoring his second try of the game — his fourth for the Hawks in the three games he has played for them since moving down from Blaydon. The Hawks now led 22-8.
Cinderford were still in the game as they took play to the Hawks line and sharp enterprise by replacement scrum-half Alex Frame created a try from a tapped penalty before referee Phil Davies had hardly blown his whistle. The score now stood at 22-13 with 12 minutes to go.
The Foresters realised that a nine point lead was assailable as they proceeded to lay seige on the Hawks line. It was then that the match was to be won or lost. The Hawks succeeded in defending their line with fearless tackling and a refusal to surrender the lead bolstered by the return to the Hawks of Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas, from England Sevens duty, as a replacement for stalwart Matt Payne.
After approaching 10 minutes of offenceless play the visitors conceded a scrum and a 60 metre clearance by Palmer took play to the Cinderford 10 metre box. Wing Randall was then able to force himself over for his second try and secure a 27-13 victory.
Henley Hawks: 15 Basil Strang, 14 Jake Randall, 13. Liam O’Neill (Fred Pierrepoint, 68 mins), 12 Tom Allen (Jack Bradford, 68 mins), 11 Simon Perry, 10 Ben Palmer, 9 James Helliwell, 1 Dave Manning (Billy Moss, 70 mins), 2 Tom Emery, 3 Billy Moss (Henry Sandys, 39 mins), 4 Dave Clements Payne, 72 mins), 5 Jake Albon (Charlie Davey, 4 mins), 6 Tom Hall, 7 Rob Bell, 8 Matt Payne (Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas, 39 mins).