Esher 17-39 Henley Hawks
Henley produced their best performance of the season to secure the double over the league leaders Esher. With continued disruption to the team due to Covid infections, Henley overcame these obstacles to produce a clinical performance which had the hosts reeling from their sheer pace and resolute defence.
Indeed, the visitors were twenty-one points up before Esher had really caught breath such was the determination from all fifteen players to play with aggression and pace.
There was a stiff breeze blowing across the pitch but Henley dealt with the conditions superbly. The first score came after only four minutes as a strong determined run by James Davies saw him split the Esher defence and score close to the posts, Monty Bradbury was successful with the conversion.
With the restart going straight into touch Henley were once more on the front foot. A series of punishing drives from the forwards and quick hands saw the ball move wide to Alex Harmes who cleverly held the opposition tight and then stepped outside his opposite number to stretch and score in the corner. Bradbury once again hit a magnificent kick from the touchline and Henley were 14 nil ahead inside ten minutes.
The league’s top try scorer Rueben Norville was next on the score sheet. Henley had driven deep into the Esher 22 and were playing a penalty advantage when a neat chip over the opposition by Bradbury saw Reuben Norville gather and weave his way under the posts. With the conversion successful once more Henley lead by 21 points with barely 15 minutes played.
This was the point at which Esher started to regain some composure and created a number of drives into the visitors 22 but a resolute Henley defence held firm. Eventually, however, the Esher winger was able to cross the whitewash but the conversion was unsuccessful.
Henley then went back on the offensive and secured the try bonus point just on the half hour mark as the ball was moved to Sam Lunnon standing wide, the Henley backrower had enough pace to touch down wide out. Unfortunately, the well struck conversion from Monty Bradbury hit the upright. However Henley had a comfortable lead of twenty one points.
With Esher now having to throw caution to the wind they produced a series of punishing drives and eventually the Esher prop was bundled over. Henley were going to have the last say of the half as once again they responded with a penalty goal on the stroke of half time. With the score at 29 – 10, it was clear Henley were going to have to cope with a rejuvenated Esher team after the break.
Henley started the second half the best and produced some promising attacking opportunities playing into the stiff breeze however Esher were able to repel the threat and set up some attacking opportunities themselves.
Whatever the home threw at Henley, the visitors defence was superb and this led to frustration with the home side conceding a number of attacking penalties. The game was effectively over when James Davies took a brilliant interception to run 50 metres for his second try of the day.
Esher were now looking to secure at least a bonus point score and they pulled a try back with some five minutes left. Henley were however going to have the last word as a cross kick saw Guy Rawsthorn score wide out and the game was over.
A superb display from the away side which has set a real marker for the rest of the season.
Henley: Rawsthorn, Norville, Harmes, Davies, Wood, Bradbury, Crow, Macco, Emery, Mason, Albon (capt) Harrison, Hall, Lunnon, Bradley, Reps: Frostick, Adejemi, Lowe, Gilbey , Cookland.