Hawks Deserved Away Win at Canterbury
Canterbury 14-19 Henley Hawks
On a bitterly cold day, Henley returned from Kent with a deserved away win as a result of their first half performance, outscoring their hosts by three tries to one.
In the end, however, the visitors had to withstand a period of intense pressure in the last quarter of the game as Canterbury went for the win. It was the defence in the last 10 minutes that was the standout feature of the game. The ground had become increasingly hard underfoot and the conditions barely playable.
Henley were slow to settle and Canterbury were quick out of the blocks and breached a sluggish defence after only three minutes with a well worked try.
However, this seemed to spur the Hawks into action and they were quick to reply as Ewan Fenley broke clear from the base of a ruck and fed Sam Lunnon well up in support for the number eight to dot down under the posts. Titchener added a straightforward conversion to establish the lead after only 10 minutes.
Henley were able to effectively disrupt the home sides lineout and this lead to frustration from Canterbury and nullified some promising attacking positions.
Henley were now starting to find a little more cohesion, and a brilliantly stolen ball by Ryan Crowley saw the Henley winger set off on a superb 70 metre run before passing to the supporting Hawks players including Fenley and White, before the ever-present Lunnon scored wide out to take the lead to 12-5 and confidence was growing.
Canterbury came back strongly but a resolute defence ensured chances were hard to come by.
Indeed, because of this Canterbury chose to kick for goal from penalty chances rather than risk their line out. A penalty for an offside offence allowed the home team to reduce the arrears to 4points.
It was Henley who looked more inventive in attack, and with some penetrating runs it was Crowley again who broke through a bemused defence to score close to the posts. With Titchener adding the straightforward conversion, the score was now 19-8 with ten minutes to half time. Unfortunately, a yellow card for Henley saw them lose some momentum just before halftime. However Canterbury had set themselves a good attacking line out opportunity which was deflected by Ellaboudy and the half time whistle had blown.
Playing up the hill and with the temperature rapidly dropping, it wasn’t the conditions for the feint hearted. Henley could have wrapped up the game after 15 minutes but a try went begging with the line wide open.
This was as good as it got as Canterbury launched wave after wave of attack only to be thwarted by a resolute Henley defence, and some tenacious scrummaging just as the home side appeared to be getting on top. At this stage Canterbury were able to reduce the arrears to five points with two simple penalties and it was now very much game on.
The pitch became very hard in the last 15 minutes and this lead to some brave tackles which eventually left the home side reeling and Henley forced a knock on which signalled the end of the game.
Ultimately a great result and given that there were only two games played in the league it was good to achieve another away win before the Christmas break.
Henley: Wood, Crowley, Flynn, Hakimian, Scott, Titchener, Fenley, Penrose, McCrae, Manning, Ellaboudy, Harrison, Vooght, White, Lunnon.
Replacements: Hall, Frostick, Emery, Norville, Crow.
By Nigel Dudding
Match photo courtesy of Phillipa Hilton