Canterbury 5 pts Henley Hawks 31pts
Henley Tries – Holmes(2), Clements, Stapley, Carter and Conversions – Robinson (2)
Canterbury Try – Browne
Henley Hawks’ ambition for promotion was further enhanced by a tidy win scoring four tries in the first half, securing a bonus point, and adding a further one in the second which proved too much for a game Canterbury side.
In a dream start Jonah Holmes scored after 13 minutes. This was a stunning try engineered through swift passing by the backs which put the wing in space just inside the Canterbury half. He used this with excellent effect to streak down the touch line with such pace that the home defence did not lay a hand on him. He touched down half between touch and goal posts for fly-half Will Robinson to convert with a carefully executed low kick
This early lead of 7-0, was the kind if start that the Hawks’ coaches had asked for. The Hawks were now full of running backed up by a mobile pack. They were ready to use the bruising running of lock Josh McNally through out the game to sustain attacks but it was flanker Ryan Newman returning after over a month away with injury who cleverly next unlocked the home defence when he pivoted to find the ever alert Robinson on this shoulder who exploited the resultant gap to break through to feed No. 8 Robbie Stapley who went over for his fourteenth try of the season.
The back row of Stapley, Newman and Ben Ashmore were instrumental in attack and defence
in keeping the Hawks on top. Canterbury were unfortunate to lose their most effective forward and skipper Peter Kelly with an injury after 31 minutes although the home backs were not slow to develop their own attacks. They were met with a resolute Hawks defence which could not be breached. The Hawks forwards after a slightly hesitant start were now beginning to show authority with effective mauling and driving. This got its reward when they drove the Canterbury pack back on their own put in to such effect that they lost control of the ball and when this flew out of the scrum Hawk’s scrum half Luke Carter quickly seized the opportunity to control it and cross over with the home defence absent.
Carter had a hand in getting the Hawk’s backs moving with his burgeoning half back partnership with Robinson, at almost every opportunity and it was not a surprise when a movement down the right gave wing Liam O’ Neill the chance to squeeze over for a try before he could be forced
into touch but he was judged to have done so.
Nevertheless the Hawks were to score just before half-time to give them a comfortable 24-0 lead. This came from a driving maul of over 30 metres which they controlled this to such good effect by changing direction on four or five occasions before the hard working lock Dave Clements was forced over the line.
There was now the prospect of stretching the lead in the second half. However not for the first time this season the rhythm of an impressive first half could not be found in the second.
However after just over ten minutes the Hawks made some great progress down the left featuring Holmes, after Martin Nutt had burst through to half way from full back. The ball was recycled and the wing then appeared in support down the right for him to register his second try of the afternoon running round behind the posts to give Robinson an easy conversion to make the score 31-0.
The Hawks seem to have recently decided to adopt the French tactic of bringing on all their unused replacements for the last quarter of the game. This however could not produce another score for the Hawks despite the efforts of skipper Tom Allen to twist and turn through the Canterbury defence.
With all their replacements used the Hawk were reduced to 14 men with the withdrawal of Newman with a slight leg problem. Canterbury took advantage of this imbalance to stretch the Hawks defence for the first time of the game and with men over created an overlap for Scott Browne to touch down an unconverted try as his conversion attempt hit the wood work.
With this victory and the defeat of Redroot on their own ground by Harper the Hawks move up to second place in the league behind Worthing. They have a three point margin over Redruth and Hartpury with a game in hand over the latter. Although league leaders Worthing have a 12 point lead over the Hawks they have played two more games. The Hawks now have the best defensive record in the league in terms of points conceded and also have scored more points than any league rivals. With 922 already registered and seven games to play they should top 1000 points in a league season for the first time.
15. Martin Nutt, 14.Liam O’Neill (Adie Gillespie 65), 13. Tom Allen (capt.), 12. Danny Wells, 11. Jonah Holmes. 10. Will Robinson, 9. Luke Carter, 1. Hugo Milford Scott ( Dai Maddocks 58), 2.Liam Dwyer, 3. Dave Manning (Jim Hadfield 58), 4. Dave Clements (James Winterbottom 58), 5. Josh McNally (Will Woodward 65), 6. Ben Ashmore, 7.Ryan Newman, 8. Robbie Stapley