Saturday, 13 August 2022

League leaders show their class as Hawks slip further into mire

RICHMOND showed why they are top of National League 1, coping effectively with the wet conditions at

RICHMOND showed why they are top of National League 1, coping effectively with the wet conditions at Dry Leas on Saturday and pushing the Henley Hawks further into a relegation scrap, writes Nick Pitson.

The Hawks contested well, especially in the first half, and if they had been more clinical in the basic skills and decision making, the score may well have been closer.

The game started brightly with the Hawks playing with intent and belying their lowly position in the table. Outside half Basil Strang was at the centre of most of Henley’s moves and was a constant threat with some strong running.

Charlie Davey, Tom Emery and Rob Bell led the charges and put the Hawks into some good scoring positions but basic errors at crucial times, just when it looked as if the Hawks might score, proved costly and a three-man overlap opportunity was also wasted.

Once Richmond began to get some possession, they immediately threatened. They were quicker in their execution of everything they did and gave the home side a lesson in the basic skills.

With scrum half Sam Stuart linking everything together for Richmond, pressure eventually told and a series of attacking five metre scrums eventually allowed number eight Chris Davis to drive over. Rob Kirby missed the conversion.

Shortly afterwards, Richmond extended their lead when a good break from Cameron Mitchell was finished off by second row Charles Lenygon.

With the Hawks struggling in the scrums, Richmond began to dominate and came close to scoring a number of times. Hawks number eight Julian Watkins was impressive at the back of a couple of retreating scrums just before the break which allowed the hosts to keep the score to 10-0 at half-time.

Henley never gave up but the second half belonged to the visitors. The Richmond pack stamped their authority on the game and an early try from wing forward Matt Zambruno, converted by Rob Kirby ended any hopes of a Hawks revival.

Chris Davis then drove over for his second score for the visitors and a bonus point try following a period of Richmond possession.

When the opportunity appeared, Henley tried to breach the well organised Richmond defence. Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas offered some good straight running and James Davies at fullback threatened with the ball in hand but had limited opportunities.

The Hawks were often under constant pressure and their game became littered with mistakes and frantic defence.

The visitors extended their lead with a try from a driving line-out, Tim Walford making the touchdown and Rob Kirby converting.

The visitors came close a number of times before replacement scrum half James Small-Edwards scored the final try after a good outside break from centre Ronald McClean giving Richmond a comfortable victory in their quest for promotion.

The Hawks now face vital matches in their quest to retain National 1 status, a win is now desperately needed and they need to show more composure at the crucial moments. However, the spirit of the side is good and they continue to give everything for the cause.

Henley Hawks: 15 J Davies, 14 X Andre, 13 L O’Neill (C Dolan, 55 mins), 12 O Hirskyj-Douglas, 11 J Randall (S Perry, 63 mins), 10 B Strang, 9 J Halliwell, 8 J Watkins, 7 R Bell, 6 S White, 5 C Davey, 4 D Clements, 3 W Moss (H Sandys, 53 mins), 2 T Emery, 1 D Manning (H Jackson, 72 mins). Replacment not used: I Davies.

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