Thursday, 11 August 2022

Women confirm league status with last kick

THE Henley Hawks Women went into their match on Sunday knowing two points from their remaining three games secured

THE Henley Hawks Women went into their match on Sunday knowing two points from their remaining three games secured their Championship South status for another season.

They had the chance to control their own destiny against the side they needed to stay above, namely Wasps 2nds.

Across the county the weather had taken its toll and the pitches on site had seen better days. With both teams having to use back pitches, the spectators weren’t treated to fast expansive rugby.

Henley approached the game with plenty of short, slick passes to keep the ball alive. They found themselves into the wind for the first 40 minutes too, which negated deep kicks to release pressure. Instead they looked to keep the ball out of contact and use their pace in the outside channels. Good ball retention meant Wasps had to defend for large periods. This brought about numerous penalties and opportunities to probe the line with tap and goes but the final pass, often too hard, meant further scrums.

Then about 25 minutes in it started to click. The support lines were deeper and closer. The forwards through Wheeler, Ferguson and Tadman ran off Dudding’s shoulder to good effect.

The overloads started to stick and the likes of Burger and Tomas looked to burst on to the end of some great movement. Simple hands saw Byrne come off her wing to create the overlap and allow Tomas to finish off and end the first half 5-0.

Within minutes of the restart, the lead was increased by Timmins on the right wing who touched down in the corner. But Wasps continued to fight and then, like a switch, the Hawks lost their discipline and penalty after penalty gave the hosts momentum. It wasn’t long before they were level and in control.

Henley were defending for their lives and Wasps went 17-10 up and it appeared there was no way back. With the bench already emptied they threw everything they had at it

Wasps then started to make errors. With time now expired, Henley had the ball with advantage after advantage from the penalty count. Any knock on or turnover and it ended. Side to side in the 22 saw them almost go in out wide, only to remember they needed to score near the posts.

Finally, Herrick was stopped inches short, but laid the ball back for Lathbury-Haig to snipe under at the base of the posts. McFarland then converted the kick to secure two points from the 17-17 draw.

The side face Cheltenham at Dry Leas on Sunday (kick-off 2.15pm).

Henley Hawks Women: 1 Jesse Van der Grient, 2 Kelly-Anne Ferguson, 3 Bobby Barrett, 4 Emma Tadman, 5 Anne Wheeler, 6 Jenny Kingman, 7 Tina Simpson, 8 Jenni Balmer, 9 Yaz Lathbury-Haig, 10 Carly Dudding, 11 Aisling Byrne, 12 Charlotte McFarland, 13 Nicole Burger, 14 Pip Timmins, 15 Annette Tomas. Subs: Samantha Herrick, Charlotte Sealey, Ellie Thomas, Ann-Marie Solowin.

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