HENLEY HAWKS 25 BURY ST EDMUNDS 24
Henley Hawks eventually came out on top of an entertaining, close contest against a spirited Bury St Edmunds side at Dry Leas on Saturday.
It was a game of two halves, the first dominated by the Hawks and the second saw the Suffolk side come back into the match with both sides scoring three tries and the Hawks defence holding firm at the end to secure victory.
The Hawks will be frustrated that they weren’t able to claim a bonus point win but the visitors were good value, moved the ball quickly and made the Hawks defence work hard especially in the second half.
Henley Head Coach Luke Allen commented,” We will take the win but we are both relieved and frustrated. We worked hard this week on our attacking play with the emphasis on changing what we are doing going forward. We’ve still a lot to work on and we didn’t achieve everything we wanted today but we are building confidence all the time. Our core skills, that were missing last week in Guernsey were much better today and we are pleased with the tight win today against a good side”.
The visitors started brightly, moving the ball wide at every opportunity and took an early lead with a penalty from Charlie Reed.
The Hawks responded with their trademark move, a driving maul from a line out, led and finished off by hooker Tom Emery after good work from Marcus Lowe.
After a good period for the Hawks, the visitors retook the lead when a rare venture into the Hawks half saw prop Toby Hill break through the home defence and some good handling was finished off by Shaq Mayers who scored under the posts. Charlie Reed converted to regain the lead for the visitors.
It was then that the Hawks gained control, enjoying plenty of possession and territory and testing the Bury defence at every opportunity. An attack involving Will Panday, Brad Cook and Alex Bradley was halted again when the Hawks conceded another penalty for holding on, and shortly afterwards, they came close again when Sam Lunnon was held up after a good break from James Love.
The Hawks were constantly pressurising the Bury defence and had its rewards when James Love reduced the arrears with a penalty. Almost immediately, Henley made their way deep into Bury territory again and a great 20m forward drive allowed Sam Lunnon to crash over to put the Hawks back in front. Love converted.
The Henley forwards, led by Jake Albon had some success in disrupting the visitors line out and they extended their lead when Tom Hall picked up a loose ball from a scrappy Bury line out and made a 40m break before feeding Lunnon to scamper over for his second try. Love converted.
The Hawks continued to threaten but went into the break with a healthy 22-10 lead.
The second half belonged to the visitors. The Bury wing Ciaran Leeson was a thorn in the Hawks side and Bury scored their second try shortly after the break when a lack of concentration in the Hawks defence allowed an excellent run from Leeson to score in the corner. Charlie Reed converted.
The Hawks tried to respond and a chip and chase from Sam Lunnon almost resulted in a Henley score. However, they made a number of errors and with Leeson a constant threat, they were made to defend for much of the half. The visitors then took the lead with their third try. Another good run from Leeson put scrum half Chris Bolton over and Charlie Reed added the conversion to give the visitors a 24-22 lead.
The Hawks came back briefly and after good work from Marcus Lowe, were awarded a penalty which Love converted to put the Hawks back into the lead. Henley then had a further chance with a line out close to the Bury line but after a few drives that came close, they were penalised and lost possession.
It was a pulsating end to the game with Bury having possession for the last nine minutes of the contest. With the help of another penalty, the visitors made their way into the Hawks half but the home defence held firm and eventually forced a Bury knock on that heralded the final whistle.
The Hawks did enough in this game to claim the spoils against a good side but there is plenty to work on in preparation for the visit to Canterbury next week.
Report by Nick Pitson and Photo by Steve Karpa
15 James Love, 14 Reuben Norvill, 13 George Amphlett, 12, Will Panday, 11 Jack Robinson,
10 Cail Cookland, 9 Will Crowe,
8 Alex Bradley, 7 Tom Hall, 6 Marcus Lowe, 21 Sam Lunnon, 4 Jake Albon (Capt), 3 Rory Mason,
2 Tom Emery, 1 Brad Cook
Reps: 16 Charlie Hughes (for Cook 63 mins) , 17 Ollie Frostick (for Mason 50min), 18 Samson Adejimi (for Emery 68mins), 19 Scott White (for Hall 76 mins), 20 Toby Gilbey ( for Norville 25min)