Henley Hawks 47-12 Clifton
A ruthless performance from Henley Hawks saw them secure their sixth successive victory in a seven-try bonus point win over Clifton at Dry Leas. The win sees Henley overtake Taunton Titans into second place in the National 2 South league table going into the International break weekend. It was a solid performance from the Hawks, particularly in the first half, where they played with real confidence and purpose on a bright and breezy afternoon.
The home side got off to an excellent start, and were rewarded with an early score after Sam Lunnon’s break saw him feed Marcus Lowe to cross the whitewash. Finn Pietersen, starting at outside half in place of the injured Roddy Giles, converted to make it 7-0 after 5 minutes. Henley were now in total ascendency and a second score felt inevitable. The ever-present Tom Hall’s superb break saw him offload to Liam O’Neill for the first of the winger’s brace of tries of the afternoon. Pietersen again converting.
Clifton had little response to the rampant Hawks, who were finding gaps in the visitor’s midfield with ease, and they soon made it 19-0 after 33 minutes when O’Neill went over again in the corner following some nice interplay between the backs. Pietersen missed the tricky touchline conversion. The try bonus point was secured on the stroke of half time when prop, Brad Cook rumbled over from close range with Pietersen adding the extras to make it 26-0 at the break.
The visitors started the second half strongly, and with Hawks winger George Wood in the sinbin, Bentley Halpin cut a great line to reduce the arrears to 26-7. Clifton were now playing with much more purpose, and the visitors found themselves within the Henley 22 again. This time, an overly-ambitious pass was intercepted by Lunnon, and the tenacious captain powered across the length of the field to cross the try-line untouched. With Pietersen again converting, the Hawks had now stretched their lead to 33-7 and seemingly no way back for the Bristolians.
With a raft of substitutions for both sides, the game descended into a stop-start affair, but the Hawks soon found another gear and ran in a further two tries. Lunnon went over again for his second of the afternoon, and a fantastic break and offload from Sam Randle saw George Wood power over. Clifton secured a second try in injury time, but it was scant consolation for the injury-stricken side who will be pleased to see the International break this weekend.
As it is, there will be much to please the coaches with the Hawks backing up last Saturday’s fantastic win at Redruth with a dominant home display. With no game this weekend, it gives the squad time to heal any niggles before the team travel to newly-promoted Birmingham & Solihull on Saturday, November 17th. The next home game is a big one, against high-flying Canterbury on Saturday, November 24th, kick-off 3pm.