Barnstaple 5-26 Henley Hawks
Henley produced an emphatic performance against a dogged and determined opposition to move to fourth place in National League 2 South. This was always going to be a tough assignment made all the much harder by the dreadful conditions, which included heavy rain and hail coupled with gale force winds. This alongside an incredibly heavy pitch made the going very tough.
The swirling wind caused havoc with kicking and handling and Henley just about had the advantage in the first half. The first 30 minutes or so produced a stalemate as both sides struggled to overcome the conditions. Henley did produce some promising attacking positions but little handling errors allowed the home side some relief.
Eventually the pressure told and from an attacking lineout the visitors drove hard for the line with Brad Cook touching down for the first score of the game. Cail Cookland kicked a superb conversion into the teeth of the gale.
It was not long before Henley increased their lead when Sam Lunnon stripped the ball in contact who fed Ben Harrison on a 35-metre run to the line with the hard working second row sliding in to increase the lead to 12 points. The next few minutes Henley dominated possession and threatened to add further to their score. However, Barnstaple were grateful for the half time whistle but knew they were up against a determined Henley defence who defended brilliantly at times.
Indeed, there was a passage of probably twenty phases which Henley repelled making every tackle aggressively and eventually forcing Barnstaple to concede a penalty.
The conditions didn’t improve in the second half and it was a matter of dominating possession to make the home side work even harder and this eventually lead them to tire considerably. Henley started to build a number of promising attacking positions and Barnstaple were now guilty of conceding numerous penalties. From driving mauls to attacking pick and go play, Henley eventually built an overlap which saw Marcus Lowe slip the ball to Rhyan Scott-Young to score his debut try for the Hawks. Cail Cookland cleverly hit the ball low into the gale to convert from wide out.
At this stage Henley were pushing for the bonus point try but Barnstaple were determined to stay in the fight. From a scrum infringement a quick tap penalty saw the home sides wing score wide out to reduce the lead. The conversion was unsuccessful.
Henley were quickly back in their stride and built an attacking platform for Ollie Frostick to dive over for his debut try and secure the vital bonus point, again the conversion was successful. At this stage Henley were in dominant form and saw the game out comfortably.
This was probably Henley’s best away performance of the season given the conditions and the four-hour travel time. Barnstaple is never an easy place to win but a ruthless controlled performance ensured maximum points.
Henley: Cookland, Norville, Amphlett, Wood, Scott-Young, Bradbury, Crow, Cook, Adjemi, Mason, Lunnon (capt), Harrison, Hall, Lowe, Bradley
Replacements: Frostick, Emery, White, Rawsthorn, Gilbey.