Canterbury 10-19 Henley Hawks
Henley produced a competent performance on Saturday without really hitting the high expectations they had set for themselves. It was an error-strewn game that the visitors never looked like losing. However, Henley were unable to break down a stubborn defence who worked hard at the breakdown to deny the quick ball Henley desired.
Playing up a significant slope and into a stiff breeze Henley set about taking the game to the visitors with some strong carries and penetrating runs. However, final passes went astray, and Henley’s normally efficient lineout did not dominate with some promising attacking positions being squandered, much to the relief of the home side who were under immense pressure at times.
Indeed, the only time that Canterbury visited the Henley 22 they scored after an error from Henley. The Canterbury winger ran hard to the corner, with the conversion failing the home side took a narrow lead into half time which certainly did not reflect the amount of territory and possession gained by the Hawks. By half time Henley had lost centre Amphlett to a hamstring injury and Will Crow had to replace him on the wing.
It was therefore vital that Henley made an impression early in the second half. This they did some three minutes into the second period when a trademark catch and drive saw Will Bordill driven over wide out and Cail Cookland converted from wide out to give Henley a 7-5 lead.
Once again the visitors were enjoying the lions share of possession and territory, but handling errors and a lack of composure ensured that Canterbury were not overrun. It was to be only time before all the pressure would tell and after multiple phases of attacking rugby, man of the match Will Panday broke through to score under the posts. With Cookland converting this should have been the signal for Henley to break loose at 14- 5 ahead.
Once again a number of promising attacking positions were squandered and Canterbury were able to relieve the pressure and indeed create enough space to score wide out. At 14 – 10 it was game on again but Henley were determined to finish in style and once again it was left to Panday to score wide out and settle the nerves. With a comfortable 19 -10 scoreline, Henley pushed hard for the bonus point win and with the last play of the game came agonisingly close with another driven maul but Canterbury just held out.
All in all a good result on the road, but on reflection Henley will be annoyed not to have gained the additional bonus point. There were some good performances with Cookland looking assured at fullback and young Ollie Frostick having a very good first start at tight head.
Cookland, Soko, Amphlett, Panday, Robinson, Butler, Gilbey, Cook, Emery, Frostick, Lunnon, Albon (capt) Lowe, Bordill, Bradley
Subs Crow, Zigriadis, Adjemi, Harrison, Hall.
Photo: Phillipa Hilton