Determined Hawks Fall Short to Blackheath

Blackheath 50-28 Henley Hawks 

With nineteen minutes on the clock Henley were leading this top of the table clash by two points after securing a bonus point score by Morgan MacRae which was converted by Max Titchener. However, the experience and resilience of the Blackheath side shone through and underlined why they are firm favourites for promotion this season.

Having seen a healthy lead slip through their hands due to Henley’s never say die attitude, they secured the ball from the resultant kick off and some weak defence from the visitors saw the hosts score wide out to regain the lead within a matter of a few minutes.

Blackheath showed why they are clear leaders from the kick off as a series of relentless attacks and some indifferent defence enabled them to establish a healthy lead of 21 points after some 20 minutes of play. It had taken Henley some time to settle into the pace of the game but the last 10 minutes of the half showed the potential of the team.

The visitors were now pressing the home side lines and a series of driving mauls were just held up close to the line. From one such penalty however, skipper Dave Manning took a quick tap and slick passing saw Morgan MacRae go over wide out for the first of his two tries. Max Titchener secured an excellent touchline conversion and Henley were back in the game as the half time whistle brought an end to a frenetic half of rugby.

The first score of the second half was going to be crucial. Henley kicked off and an error in the home sides defence brought Henley a penalty which was duly dispatched to the corner. After a series of relentless pressure and driving play, Will Crow spotted a gap and drove over to score for Titchener to convert and it was game on.

From the kick off, Henley were back on the attack and at this stage Blackheath’s set piece was beginning to falter and a series of attacks saw winger, Leo Webb break free and run in from 20 metres to score under the posts for Max Titchener to convert, and the visitors were level. Unfortunately Henley allowed Blackheath back into the game for a brief moment and their powerful midfield were able to unlock the Henley defence to score wide out and extend their lead back to five points.

Henley were not to be outdone and once again home sides defensive errors allowed them to launch a series of punishing attacks which saw MacRae dive over and Henley to take the lead for the first time.

Sadly, that was about as good as it got for the visitors as Blackheath rallied and regained the lead with a well worked try through the midfield. With a five point lead Blackheath then secured a penalty to take the difference to 8 points and relative comfort. With time running out, the home side were camped well inside the Henley half and two scores in the last three minutes gave the scoreline a slightly flattering appearance for the home side.

The Hawks will be very keen to put this right on Saturday when they welcome second placed Worthing Raiders to Dry Leas for what promises to be another keenly fought contest.

Henley:  Manning capt, Emery, Frostick, Lunnon, Harrison, MacRae, Vooght, Lowe, Crow, Titchener, Webb, Hakimian, Flynn, Norville, Wood Subs: Niazi, Ellaboudy, Hall, White, Fenley.

Report by Nigel Dunning

 

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