Henley Hawks 31 Esher 21
Henley Hawks completed a comfortable bonus point victory over Esher at Dry Leas on Saturday in their latest National 2 (South) fixture.
This was only the fourth game of the season for the Hawks, and despite not really firing on all cylinders in this game, they are beginning to build some winning momentum, having claimed bonus point victories in the last three games.
The foundation of the win was laid down by an excellent contribution from the Henley forwards who dominated the set pieces and showed good intensity in the loose exchanges. As the squad comes together, the Hawks will be looking for more continuity in their game as they weren’t able to capitalise on a 24-0 lead and at times tried to force things too much. They did though, do more than enough to win the game before conceding a couple of late Esher tries.
The conditions were almost perfect for Henley’s running game, a complete contrast to last week but it was Esher who started strongly. They could have been a couple of scores ahead early on as they put the Hawks defence under pressure in their own 22. However, the visitors squandered a couple of early chances and missed two kickable penalties
For the Hawks, scrum half Will Crowe looked sharp and as usual, hooker Tom Emery and the back row of Alex Bradley, Tom Hall and Will Bordill took the game to the visitors. Henley got positioning the Esher half and full back James Love opened the scoring with a penalty from 40m out.
Following a number of kicking exchanges, the Hawks forwards gradually began to get control and after a drive from Tom Emery and a chip through, the referee awarded a penalty try to the Hawks for a deliberate obstruction.
Will Crow then put Alex Bradley clear only for him to be stopped by an illegal no arms tackle which resulted in a yellow card for Esher No8 Charlie Gossington.
With the Hawks pack totally dominant, they turned down the kickable penalty and from the resulting line out ten metres from the Esher line, Tom Emery then scored himself, leading the driving maul for a try which Love converted.
Esher hadn’t helped themselves with two yellow cards and looked a bit shell shocked, with signs that the Hawks were beginning to gel and taking a 17-0 lead into the break.
The Hawks continued to attack straight after half time and were immediately on the scoreboard with a well taken try from Reuben Norville. An Esher attack broke down in midfield, Henley claimed the ball and threw it out wide. Some great hands and a backhanded pass from Emery put Norville clear. He then chipped ahead and collected the bounce to score under the posts. Love converted to give the Hawks a commanding 24-0 lead.
Just as it looked as though Henley would go on and win the game without any trouble, they gifted a try to Esher’s Cameron Wilkins. In trying to run out of their own 22, an attempted chip landed straight into Wilkins’ hands and he had a simple run in for the score. Adamson converted for the visitors.
It appeared that this was just a temporary setback for the Hawks when another tremendous scrum from the Hawks pack earned a penalty, which was taken quickly by scrum half Will Crowe. He made some 40m before giving the ball to Sam Lunnon who crashed over in the corner for a try. Love converted from the touch line.
The Hawks relaxed somewhat after this and Esher enjoyed a lot more possession and territory during the last twenty minutes. The Hawks defended well with a try saving tackle from Monty Bradbury and a great turnover from Brad Cook helping to stall the visitors. However, despite the Hawks efforts to keep their line intact, Esher fought hard and managed two late scores one from wing Harri Lang and the other from centre Luke Peters. Jack Lavin converted both.
Another moral boosting win for the Hawks which will give them increased confidence as they prepare to travel to Guernsey for their next match.
Report by Nick Pitson and photo by Steve Karpa
15 J Love, 14 R Norville, 13 W Panday, 12 C Cookland, 11 I Macrae, 10 M Bradbury, 9 W Crowe
1 B Cook, 2 T Emery, 3 R Mason, 4 J Albon (c), 21 S Lunnon , 6 T Hall, 7 W Bordill, 8 A Bradley
Reps: 16 L Zigkiriadis (for Cook 55mins), 17 O Frostick ( for Mason 66mins), 18 M Lowe (for Hall 46 mins), 19 S White ( for Bordill 66 mins), 20 T Gilbey (for Crowe 62 mins),