Hawks 28 Guernsey Raiders 24
Henley Hawks made it two wins on the bounce in National League 2 (East) coming from behind to win a pulsating game against a gallant Guernsey Raiders at Dry Leas.
The visitors contributed to a match that could have gone either way and can feel a little frustrated as they raced to a 19-3 lead and outscored the home side by four tries to three.
However, the Hawks, while not at their best, showed great commitment, tenacity and desire to see out the game which they probably just about deserved.
The Raiders showed they were well up for the game in the opening minutes and scored with their first attack when wing Anthony Armstrong collected a cross kick to get his sides first try.
The Hawks looked sluggish and were surprised by the sprightly visitors who quickly scored a couple of tries, both from Guernseys hooker Daniel Morgan, both from driving mauls and both converted by Owen Thomas.
The Hawks looked disjointed and struggled to get any form of momentum when they had the ball and only had a Max Titchener penalty to show for their efforts. At 19-3 down, the Hawks needed something to spark them into life and it came from the excellent skipper Dave Manning. He made a surging break and executed a great dummy before Sam Lunnon gave prop Rory Mason the scoring pass.
The Hawks, eventually, then rolled back the years, scoring a magnificent team try from one end of the pitch to the other, with Adam Porter and Leo Webb both involved. The final pass lead to Sam Lunnon to scamper over wide to claim the try which Titchener converted.
It looked at that point that the Hawks had got themselves together, but they then went to sleep at the restart and allowed the Raiders to extend their lead straight away. They moved the ball wide quickly and wing Ethan Smith crossed to give the visitors a half time lead of 24-15.
The Hawks came out from the break and enjoyed their best spell of the match. They scored thirteen unanswered points and then held on to win the game. Although confusingly penalised a couple of times at the scrum, the Henley pack was now totally dominant and pushed the Guernsey eight backwards on a number of occasions.
Titchener kicked a second penalty before the Hawks scored their third try. A short pass from hooker Tom Emery saw another scintillating break from Manning and eventually Tom Vooght crossed to score his first try for the club. Titchener’s conversion put the Hawks into the lead for the first time 25-24.
On the hour, a further penalty from Titchener extended the Hawks lead and with Henley controlling things, every turnover and penalty won was greeted with enthusiastic celebration. However, although it looked as if the Channel Islanders were running out of steam, they rallied, and began to force the Hawks into mistakes.
In a frantic ending, the visitors pressed and created enough space in the final minute and it looked as though they had claimed a winning try in the corner only for a knock on to be called. Then, with the last play of the game, a Guernsey driving maul near the Hawks line was brilliantly defended by the Henley pack and they claimed the vital turnover which sealed the game.
Report by Nick Pitson
15 Ryan Crowley, 14 Seb Scott, 13 Adam Porter, 12 Guy Rawsthorn, 11 George Wood, 10 Matt Titchener, 9 Leo Webb
1 Dave Manning (c), 2 Tom Emery, 3 Rory Mason, 4 Ben Harrison, 5 Sam Lunnon,
6 Scott White, 7 Tom Vooght, 8 Alex Bradley
Reps: 16 Luke Shpylka (for Mason 40) , 17 Charlie Sichel, 18 Tom Hall (for White 48), 19 Marcus Lowe (for Harrison 49), 20 Cail Cookland
Photo: Steve Karpa