Henley Hawks V Old Elthamians Match report
Conveyancing Data Services are proud team sponsors of the Henley Hawks. The following is a match report from Saturday 7th February’s game where they played against Old Elthamians at Chislehurst. Our very own James Comben played at Fly Half. Henley Hawks’ next game is on Saturday 14th February at 15.00 playing against Canterbury at Henley’s home ground at Dry Leas.
Two late penalties from scrum half Connor Murphy ensured the Hawks maintained their nine point lead at the top of National 2 (South).
by Nick Burden
It was a determined effort from the league leaders who again had to come from behind to win against a highly committed Old Boys side who pushed the Hawks all the way to dig deep into their character. The Hawks passed with flying colours.
On an exposed pitch, the opening exchanges were frantic with the Old Boys’ larger forwards dominating proceedings and stifling any hopes the Hawks had of stamping their authority on the match. The Old Boys outside half Tom White controlled things, using the breeze by kicking cleverly and keeping his side going forward.
The Hawks tried to counter attack with Connor Murphy and Freddie Pierrepoint prominent but they were often frustrated by dropped passes and losing possession. After another effort to break out of their own half, Henley were penalised for not releasing after thirteen minutes and the Old Boys opened the scoring with a penalty from White.
The Old Boys were enjoying plenty of possession and territory and scored the game’s first try shortly afterwards. The backs linked well and a chip forward allowed Edwards to win the race to the touchdown wide out. White converted and then added another penalty from wide out to give the home side a 13-0 lead.
The Hawks defended well and slowly but surely began to match their opponents’ physicality and put pressure of their hosts.
The home side did struggled in the scrums and were penalised a number of times for collapsing in the first half. From a resulting penalty line out, the Hawks used their very effective driving maul to score their first try with Jimmy Litchfield emerging as the scorer to leave Old Elthamians leading 13-5 at the break.
The Hawks started the second half positively. Again the driving maul was a useful weapon but often resulted in nothing as the referee’s interpretation of the laws seemed to ignore the home side’s methods of trying to stop them and frustration was very evident from the visitors.
With the Hawks enjoying more possession, scrum half Connor Murphy fed Oscar Herskyj-Douglas to break down the short side. Replacement prop Dave Manning then broke clear to scamper fifteen metres to score. Connor Murphy converted to reduce the arrears to one point.
The Old Boys, to their credit hit straight back when Tom White again exposed the Hawks out wide with a cross kick that allowed Renford Bennett to collect on the bounce to score in the corner.
However, it was Henley who now began to take control as the home side began to tire and Matt Payne, HirskyJ-Douglas and Manning all enjoyed forays into the Old Boy’s territory. Following a scrum win against the head for the Hawks, centre Ed Yarnton made a fine break and from the following ruck, a try looked on. However, a pass was intercepted by Old Boy’s centre Christian Cook who ran half the length of the pitch before kicking head but Henley wing Lloyd Owen covered superbly save a certain score.
With ten minutes left on the clock, another great driving maul from the Henley forwards resulted in a third try. A drive of some twenty metres was stopped illegally by the home side but Connor Murphy picked up the loose ball to dart over. With an Old Boy being yellow carded, the Hawks can consider themselves unlucky not to be awarded a penalty try, especially as the conversion was missed.
There were just four minutes remaining when Henley took the lead for the first time in the game with a Murphy penalty following another collapsed scrum. He added another two minutes later to seal the game.
The smiles on the faces of the players and supporters told the tale at the end as the Hawks had to work hard against a side that threw everything at them. This was a gutsy performance from a team that has dominated the division from the first week of the season and each opponent is now looking at their game against Henley as their own chance to knock down the league leaders. The confidence in the Hawks’ own ability, especially in the second half this week, should hold them in good stead for the rest of the season.
15 Randall. 14 Andre. 13 Pierrepont. 12 Yarnton. 11 Owen. 10 Comben. 9 Murphy. 1 Milford-Scott. 2 Philpott. 3 Litchfield. 4 Clements. 5 Woodward. 6 Hirskyj-Douglas. 7 Jones. 8 Stapley