Henley Hawks produced an uncharacteristic display on Saturday as they surprisingly lost 38-21 to Hinckley RFC at Dry Leas in their rearranged National 2 (South) fixture.
With this being one of the their games in hand, this was a wake up call for the Hawks as they missed an opportunity to move up the league table and start challenging and put pressure on the teams at the top end of the league.
This was not Henley’s day and they seemed subdued for the majority of the game. The forwards fought hard and Henley enjoyed plenty of possession, but they played too lateral at times and found it difficult to find and fluency or momentum.
Hinckley, despite having only won one game all season, were good value for their win. Their defence was strong, they competed strongly and they played with purpose when they had the ball. They were clinical when their chances came and their full back Joe Wilson claimed 23 of his sides points.
The visitors started with intent and opened the scoring after just four minutes when visiting full back Joe Wilson collected an inside pass and crossed under the posts. He converted his own try.
The Hawks responded. A good forward drive of some 20m was held up just short of the line and despite winning a number penalties, they couldn’t find a way through the robust Hinckley defence.
Tom Hall was excellent for the Hawks, taking the game to the Midlands side at every opportunity. The Hawks showed glimpses of what they are capable of and a good move involving Euan Macrae, Will Bordill and Tom Emery went close. Joe Butler then put the Hawks in another good attacking position but again the forwards drive was defended well by the visitors.
The Hawks then turned down a couple of penalty shots at goal but their attempts to attack the Hinckley line were either defended well by Hinckley or they fell foul of the referee’s strict interpretation of the breakdown.
When the visitors had possession, they had conviction and showed they had ideas. A good backs move was finished off for the second time by Joe Wilson. Again he converted.
The Hinckley hooker Adam Johnson then added a further try just before the break to give the visitors a 21-0 lead.
The second period started like the first and it wasn’t long before Hinckley gained their bonus point with a try from Euan Kelly. Wilson converted to give the visitors a 28-0 lead.
The Hawks didn’t give up but they needed to try something different and introduction of Samson Adejimi and Alex Bradley gave the Hawks some renewed impetus. After a number of drives at the Hinckley line, it was Adejimi who eventually forced his way over for the Hawks first try which Cail Cookland converted.
Any thoughts of Henley making some sort of a come back were short lived when Hinckley wing Josh Smith broke through some weak Hawks defence to score. Wilson added the conversion.
With the game opening up towards the end, the Hawks managed to get some worthwhile territory and possession. A good move involving Tom Hall, Will Crowe and Jack Robinson put the Hawks in a good position and they were eventually awarded a penalty try when the Hinckley defence infringed once too often. Alex Bradley made some storming runs and got his just rewards by crossing for another Hawks try just before the end.
Hinckley then capped their fine afternoon with a dropped goal from Wilson to seal a deserved victory.
A disappointing afternoon for the Hawks but they have the chance to make amends straightaway with another home game this week against the league leaders, Worthing Raiders.
Report by Nick Pitson and Photo by Steve Karpa
15 Cookland, 14 Macrae, 13 Rawsthorn, 12, Panday, 11 Robinson,
10 Butler, 9 Crowe,
8 Lowe, 7 Bordill, 6 Hall, 21 Lunnon, 4 Albon (Capt), 3 Mason, 2 Emery, 1 Cook
Reps: 16 Probyn (for Probyn 73mins), 17 Adejimi (for Emery 52mins), 18 Bradley (for Bordill 52mins), 19 Harrison (for Hall 72mins), 20 Webb (for Macrae 32 mins)