Dings Crusaders 27 Henley Hawks 36
This was a pulsating match where once again Henley came from behind in a devastating second half display. Henley were facing turning around a ten point difference at half time after an error strewn first half which saw Dings dominate many phases of the game.
Henley however got off to the best possible after the ever alert Ewan Fenley took a quick tap penalty from a Dings infringement some ten metres out and with skill and guile forced his way over for the first score and 5 nil to the hawks.
This was about as good as it got for the visitors as the hosts played with pace and skill to continually ask questions of the Henley defence. It was clear that it would not be long before the visitors conceded and take the lead after twenty minutes when the Dings prop hit a good line to score close to the posts. The conversion was a formality and the hosts were now in the ascendancy. Indeed whenever Henley built good pressure they were found wanting as final passes and knock ons ensured the home side line stayed intact. In fact Dings were finding openings in the Henley defence and a further score was inevitable as once again hard running from the Dings forwards brought rewards as the second row barrelled his way over, a further indiscretion saw the hosts reward with a simple penalty in front of the posts. This brought the score to 15 -5 at half time.
Some straight talking in the Henley dressing room at half time brought about a remarkable turnaround. It was vital that Henley scored first. Henley were quick into their stride and regained the kick off. There then followed a remarkable period of play as young scrum half Ewan Fenley scored three tries in a seven minute spell which completely knocked the stuffing out of the hosts.
The first of these tries came from quick thinking from the young scrum half as a second quick tap penalty brought rewards as he dived over close to the posts. Ben Bolster was able to add the extras. It was now game on and two minutes later the ball was moved quickly to Jack Robinson whose pace took the visitors by surprise, he found the ever present Fenley inside and a lovely pass saw the scrum half gather the ball and race under the posts once again Bolster was able to add the conversion. As if this was not enough some strong running from the Henley forwards and in particular alex Bradley saw ewan Fenley once again break free to race in from 20 metres and score a spectacular try. The scrum half was having the game of his life and would have scored a fifth had not the referee been unsighted.
This took the score to 24 -15 and Henley were in the driving seat. However some indiscipline saw the hosts come back into the game after hooker Emery was yellow carded for a technical offence. This saw a short period of Dings pressure as their hooker dived over from a driving lineout. However this revival was short lived as Marcus Lowe and Tom Emery now back on the field produced scores from trade mark driving lineouts to seal the game at 36 -20 to the Hawks. Dings determination to secure the bonus point was rewarded with a fourth try from the final play of the game.
This win took the the Hawks into second place in the league as Taunton lost out to Leicester Lions. In addition young Ewan Fenley moved into the top try scorers in the league. It was a testament to the resilience of the team that they were able to produce a fantastic turnaround once again away from home.
Team: Wood, Norvill, Andre, Burrage, Robinson, Bolster, Fenley, Cook, Emery, Hughes, Hyde, Albon, Lowe, Lunnon, Bradley. Reps: Mason, Deacon, White, Kharbouch, Griffiths.
Report by Nigel Dudding and Photo by Steve Karpa