Bury St Edmunds 18 – 27 Henley Hawks
Henley’ s reasonable away form continued as they produced a convincing maximum 5 point win against the side one place above them in the league. The opening stages started brightly for the visitors as they showed endeavour and enterprise in attack and a solid defence ensured that the home sides chances remained rare. However, the first half developed into a turgid affair with the Henley backs failing to capitalise on the excellent platform that the forwards were creating. As a result there were very few scoring opportunities and the game failed to flow and continuity was at a premium.
The opening score came for the home side when a missed defensive opportunity allowed the Bury flanker to pick and dive over from a ruck some five meters out. However this was as good as it got for Bury as Henley were able to take reasonable control with some excellent set piece control. They dominated the lineouts through Hyde and Lowe but were frustrated as a solid Bury defence refused to yield. However, as the half progressed some excellent pressure on the home side line resulted in Jackson kicking a straightforward penalty as Bury continued to infringe close to their line.
Perhaps a turning point in the game came right on half time when Henley shoved the Bury pack backwards for some five meters and a penalty was awarded. This was to set the tone for the second half when the Henley eight took control.
From excellent set piece shortly after the kick off, Robinson was to get the first of his three tries as the forwards dominated the loose and produced some excellent quick ball for the full back to squeeze in at the corner. An excellent touchline conversion from Jackson opened up a five point lead which they were to improve upon as again Robinson latched onto a good handling movement and showed real pace to get outside the defence and score in the corner.
Perhaps the decisive score came on 60 minutes when Henley had worked themselves into a commanding position inside the hosts 22 meter area. Eventually, a five meter scrum was awarded and Henley drove towards the try line. Bury collapsed the scrum illegally and a penalty ensured. Sensing the hosts scrum were tiring, the Hawks opted for another scrum. Once again the front row of Cook, Emery and Morris dug deep, once again the Bury pack went backwards, again the scrum collapsed but Ben Wilde the referee had seen enough and awarded a penalty try.
With an eleven point lead Henley should have pushed on for the bonus point try and completely close out the game. However as on so many occasions this year a lapse in concentration allowed the Bury flanker in for his second score of the day and to reduce the arrears once more to four points.
With ten minutes remaining the game was poised for a dramatic finale however a fine break by Butler and a clever chip kick over the defence saw Robinson win the chase for the touchdown to secure the much needed bonus point and a nine point cushion.
Bury launched a last ditch attempt to secure a losing bonus point for themselves but a huge defensive effort from the entire team ensured nothing was to cross the visitors line and Henley held out for a deserved point away win.
After a run of indifferent form, the Hawks showed in the second period of the game some real desire to attack and defend effectively. The set piece is improving each week and this is vital to secure the quality possession needed to test opposition defences. With more clinical finishing and more accurate handling, this team has the ability to reach its target of a top five finish.
Henley: Ball (Cook 40), Wunder (Emery 40), Morris, Hyde, Clements (capt) Haynes (Hall 55), White, Lowe, Jackson, Butler, Janes, Hayhow, Andre (Portland 65), O Neill, (Howe78), Robinson