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Henley Hawks V Cambridge Match Report

Conveyancing Data Services are proud team sponsors of the Henley Hawks. The following is a match report from Saturday 24th January’s game where they played against Cambridge at Cambridgeshire’s home ground. Our very own James Comben played at Fly Half. Henley Hawks’ next game is on Saturday 31st January at 15.00 playing at Henley’s home ground Dry Leas against Clifton.

Inconsistent Hawks win away at Cambridge

by Nick Burden

Henley Hawks secured their first away game victory in four matches at Cambridge.

In a topsy turvy affair they again had to hold on to victory in the last five minutes. As in their matches with Worthing, Chinnor and Southend the game was in doubt until the final whistle. On this occasion the Hawks established a five point advantage with a little over a minute of the game left and managed to keep Cambridge at bay on the half-way line after they had scored a converted try to narrow the deficit from 32 pts -20 pts to five.

As has been a feature in the latter part of the season the Hawks have started bewilderingly slowly to say the least. In this game thy found themselves a try down in the first minute with the brisk cold east wind a contributory factor to a fumbling knock on from the kick-off. The resultant scrum also caught Hawks scrum cold and they were able to wheel with alarming alacrity, by an indulgent referee James Clark, to the blind side where wing James Wigglesworth was released to score in the corner unmolested.

Such a set back was not unfamiliar to the Hawks in recent weeks but they immediately countered at through their backs but wing Lloyd Owen was stopped by a try saving tackle.

The home sides tackling was a feature of their game but they were soon staggered when scum-half Tom Whitely had a clearance kick charged down at the base of a scrum. 30 metres out. Hawks fly-half James Comben was quick to seize the resultant ricochet and strode away unopposed to score close to the corner flag which made a conversion kick into the wind that more difficult.

However the breath taking pace of scoring continued when Wigglesworth was again able to shrug off attempted tackles to score his second try just ten minutes into the game and the visitors were now already 13 -5 in arrears just after eleven minutes

This pace was not maintained and the Hawks now had the majority of possession and the game was played mainly in Cambridge's half. However it was not possible to turn these advantages into tries. This was because although they were prepared to use both forwards and backs in attacking modes they found it difficult to break through a very obdurate defence. They also found that the sticky mud of the playing surface was taking the edge off their pace.

The mould was broken almost on the stroke of half-time when from a scrum on the home 22 scrum-half Mark Bruce, who enjoyed a very steady game after a long break from 1st XV service, looped away and with an accurate pass gave room for Piers O'Conor, up from full back on the wing, to find space to use his pace to reduce the Cambridge lead to 13 10.

The Hawks however were soon too disillusioned if they now thought that this topsy turvy affair was now going to go in their favour. Not for the first time this season they failed to command the restart kick and Cambridge in possession swept down the left through what was shadow tackling for full back James Stokes to burst through on half , sell a dummy and send scrum-half Whiteley under the posts for a converted try to make the score 20-10.

This set back was soon countered by the Hawks demanding possession, turning over in a ruck and driving play by Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas resulted in the No.8's eighth try of the season. This was followed a few minutes later with Cambridge prop Matthew Worrall -Clare being despatched to the sin bin as the Hawks pressure began to take its toll. Comben converted the penalty awarded from in front of the posts

The Hawks were now level on points at 20-20. Although they lost one set scrum to the depleted home pack their dominance was soon evident when they drove prop Dave Manning over to give the Hawks the lead 20-25 for the first time in the game. They strove to increase their lead by using their backs and were unlucky that Conor twice lost possession as he went to break through.

It was left to the forwards to execute the best conceived try of the game when they set up a skilful driving maul over 40 metres which had the home pack in retreat despite the efforts of big No. 8 Steve Hipwell to stop it. The only way they found to do this was to halt it illegally for which the referee awarded a penalty try which was converted by Comben who then also added a penalty goal for a yellow card which sent prop James Fish off the field.

The Hawks now leading 32-20 believed they were home and dry. Cambridge however thought otherwise. They broke away on their own ten metre line and a dummy by full back James Stokes sent Joe Collingham away to score under the posts which with the conversion made the score 32-25 to the Hawks. They then immediately gained possession and again threatened to break away. Desperate Hawks tackling halted this and when Bruce was put in possession he calmly kicked the ball into touch on the halfway line to hail the final whistle.

With Dorking drawing away at Launceston the HAWKS now have an eight point lead over them at the top of the league. . They however have a game in hand!

Henley Hawks

15. Piers O'Conor, 14. Lloyd Owen, 13. Ed Yarnton, 12. George Eastwell ( Xavier Andre 79)., 11. Jake Randall, 10. James Comben, 9. Mark Bruce, 1, Hugo Milford Scott ( Jimmy Litchfield 44), 2. Stuart Philpott, 3. Dave Manning, 4. Dave Clements ( Matt Payne 79), 5. Will Woodward (Jake O'Leary 67), 6. Matt Payne ( Robbie Stapley 44), 7. Gus Jones (Tom Hall 59), 8. Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas

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