Hawks Perilously Close to Relegation After Fading Away at Fylde

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Fylde 42 Henley Hawks 22

Henley Hawks failed to earn any points at Fylde and now are third from bottom in National Division 1 and therefore in the relegation zone with three clubs to go down.

The final score was not a true reflection of an absorbing game for although the Hawks never had the lead for the first 74 minutes it was any one’s game which provided exciting rugby for a decent crowd.

Both sides provided rugby which made it likely either would turn out to be winners until the last quarter of an hour. Fylde however were the more consistent in making most of the chances that came their way.

At the start the Hawks had a monopoly of possession. However they were spend thrift in using it with careless retention and therefore although much of the game for the first fifteen minutes was in Fylde’s territory they were not put under great pressure.   The Hawks paid the penalty for this for when passing broke down in the home 22 Fylde broke away and with well executed running and passing swept up to be close to  the Hawk line  and then lively scrum-half  Ryan de la Harpe seized an opportunity to touch down behind the posts for fly-half Chris Johnson to convert. Buoyed with this success they added a second (unconverted) try within two minutes through wing Warren Spragg to lead 12-0.

These scores were therefore against the run of play. The Hawks had the measure of the home pack in all aspects of their play be it scrum, lineout or loose. They then began to at last put pressure on the Fylde defence and drove their eight back over their line where skipper Matt Payne got the touch down to cut the home lead to 12-5 as James Comben just failed with his conversion attempt.

Unfortunately the Hawks could not maintain their superiority and conceded a penalty which Johnson used to make the home lead 15 -5 at half time.

The Hawks play was rejuvenated at the start of the second half and demonstrated to Fylde that they could create opportunities with the ball in hand. Within a minute of the restart Comben broke through on the half-way line and with McNally taking on the attack had the home defence in retreat. They then moved the ball across field where right wing Xavier Andre stretched their cover with his acceleration to give his fellow wing  Christophe Bart the space to score and leave the Fylde defence out played. Comben’s excellent conversion narrowed Fylde’s lead to 15-12 and after 48 minutes he equalled the score to 15- 15.with a straight forward penalty

The ding dong nature of the game continued when Fylde contrary to the Hawks previous domination in the maul situation caught the Hawks unprepared and lock Joe Robinson was able to touch down and thanks to Johnson’s boot put the home side 22-15 in the lead.

The Hawks were able to quickly re-assert their forward dominance when camped on the Fylde line.

Following the award of a yellow card to centre Chris Briers for failing to release the ball in a tackle. The  hard slog of Hawks’ lock Dave Clements  was rewarded when he led the drive over the Fylde line to score which Comben converted to make the score 22-22 with just under 14 minutes of playing time left.

It seemed that all was now set-up for a similar finish to the Hawks’ game which they won against Worthing Raiders the previous week.

However this was not to be. Johnson has been the catalyst of Fylde’s success, particularly at home this season. He set-up an attack in the Hawks 22 which exposed a tiring defence to such an extent that Ed Yarnton, their replacement full back, prevented a score by deliberating knocking on, which was judged by referee Andrew Proctor to be a scoring pass.

Johnson only converted the resultant penalty but then proceeded to control the game against a tired Hawks side now unable to muster an effective defence as they had done against Worthing Raiders the previous week.  So, also assisted by the absence of Yarnton, Fylde ran in three tries by front rowers Mark Rylance and Adam Lewis and centre Stephen Bries in the space of ten minutes. Man of the match Johnson kicked one conversion to make the final score 42-22

The Hawks are now faced with the unenviable task of having to defeat Loughborough Students (home) and  Tyndale (away) in their last two games and with two bonus points a total 65 points. If they do this they will have to rely on the other probables for relegation Cinderford, Loughborough and Worthing not surpassing this total. The game this week against Loughborough Students has therefore even greater significance.

In summary the Hawks future in the hands of the other clubs as much as their own.

Henley Hawks

15. Liam O’Neill, 14. Xavier Andre ( Ed Yarnton 67.),13. Tom Allen, 12. Danny Wells, 11. Christophe Bart, 10 James Comben, 9. Luke Carter, 1.Dave Manning (Dai Maddocks 69), 2. Liam Dwyer, 3. Alex Penny (Ruairi McLeod 75) 4. Dave Clements, 5. Josh McNally (Will Woodward 75), 6. Matt Payne (Capt.), 7. Ryan Newman, 8. Robbie Stapley (Ben Ashmore 80)