Henley Hawks Subdue Shelford and Earn Five Points

Shelford 8 pts Henley Hawks 32 pts


Henley – Tries: Manning, Carter, O’Neill, Payne Conversions: Robinson (3), Penalties: Robinson (2)
Shelford – Try: Scott, Penalty: Scott


Henley Hawks travelled to Shelford wanting to record a morale boosting victory ahead of the showdown game against Worthing at Dry Leas next Saturday to decide the winners of the National 2 (South) League and promotion to National 1.


They were aware from previous games at Shelford that they would be up against a stubborn defence. They were not disappointed for it was not until the last quarter of the game that they established a significant winning margin.


From the start the Hawks played their accustomed free flowing wide attacking game with fly-half Will Robinson’s passing putting the backs on the attack at every opportunity. Robinson though did have chance to put the Hawks ahead with a penalty from 35 metres but his kick firmly struck a goal post. However he was successful with his second attempt after 18 minutes.


The Hawks however quickly turned over possession with some faulty handling and Shelford were  quick to turn this into attacking options mainly through the driving of their pack and when the Hawks were caught off side centre Richard Brady made the score 3-3 from a kick near the posts.


The visitors were still not able to make an impression on the Shelford defence and when again they turned over possession Shelford established themselves in the Hawks 22 and managed to turn the Hawks defence and gave centre Andrew Scott a loose ball to pick up and dive over for a try near touch to make the score 8-3.


The Hawks however quickly nullified this score when in trying to relieve the pressure of the Hawks attack on the Shelford ten metre line fly-half Adam White’s clearance kick was blocked involuntarily by centre Tom Allen. The rebound was quickly picked up by Martin Nutt who although stopped in front of the posts the ensuing ruck enabled prop Dave Manning to score and give the Hawks a small lead 10-8.


The second half began with Shelford in the ascendency.  It was scrum-half Luke Carter who restored the Hawks grip on the game when he wrenched the ball from a ruck on the Shelford ten metre line to run a try unopposed from 40 metres which made the score 15-8. The Hawks further consolidated their lead with a 30 metre penalty by Robinson.


Shelford then established themselves on or about the Hawks five metre box and proceeded to kick four penalties to touch to drive for the Hawks line. The Hawks forwards would not be bettered and this was also the situation when in frustration the home side moved the ball to their backs and attempted to score in the opposite corner.


The Hawks eventually broke the siege with the reward of a scrum for a knock-on. They then, as is their want, went on the attack a few metres from their own line and used their speed to outstrip the home side and good passing and strong running into the Shelford half was finished off by full back Liam O’Neill which saw him run a try which covered a move of some 80 metres in all with the home defence stranded in the Hawks half of the field.


This was accomplished whilst down to 14 men as Tom Allen had been given a yellow card a few minutes earlier for an offside offence deep in the Hawks 22.


Henley were now determined to get a bonus point for a fourth try and led by Matt Payne who in a surge for the line knocked four players aside. Although stopped the Hawks were then awarded a penalty which they took as a set scrum and they put a very weary Shelford pack into full retreat and it was fitting that Payne was then able to make the line which with Robinson’s conversion took the score to 32-8 on the final whistle.


This resounding finish was acknowledged by a rousing reception from the large group of Henley supporters present and set the team up for the game against Worthing at Dry Leas next Saturday. Although now two points behind the Sussex team, a win in that match will make them champions and promoted to National Division 1.


Hawks Team

15. Liam O’Neill (Neill Baggett 79), 14. Xavier  Andre, 13. Martin Nutt (capt.), 12. Tom Allen, 11. Richards Briggs, 10. Will Robinson, 9. Luke Carter, 1. Hugo Milford-Scott (Dai Maddocks 64), 2. Liam Dwyer, 3. Dave Manning (Jim Hadfield 79). 4. Dave Clements, 5. James Winterbottom (Josh McNally 45), 6. Matt Payne, 7. Will Woodward, 8. Robbie Stapley (Alex Penny 77)