Henley Hawks 33 Canterbury 24
In their last home game of the season on Saturday, Henley Hawks won their fifth successive game with a deserved bonus point victory over visiting Canterbury at Dry Leas.
It was the perfect ‘send off’ for Director of Rugby Nigel Dudding, who is standing down after over 50 years of commitment to the club including spells as club captain and head coach.
However, the Hawks didn’t have it all their own way and were 17-10 behind at one point in the first half. They struggled to find fluency and had issues with the line out with Canterbury proving to be well organised opponents who grabbed a deserved bonus point of their own right at the end.
Canterbury started brightly and were on the scoreboard within two minutes when wing Tom Halliday crossed.
Henley replied quickly with a well worked try from Will Crow after a break from Cail Cookland and good support from Marcus Lowe with Max Titchener adding the conversion. Titchener then increased the Hawks lead with the first of three penalties.
Both teams tried to move the ball wide but Canterbury were more assured with the ball in hand and levelled with a try from second row Ian Irvine.
Canterbury then had their best period of the game and a penalty allowed them to kick deep into Hawks territory. The visitors then went ahead with a penalty try when the Hawks illegally pulled down a driving maul right on the line.
The Hawks were having trouble winning their own line out ball but eventually got a driving maul going that was stopped just short of the line. Cail Cookland and Adam Hakimian had attempts to score but eventually Henley were awarded a penalty in front of the posts. Instead of taking three points, they moved the ball wide for Rory Mason to crashed over. The conversion was missed to leave Canterbury just ahead 17-15 at the break.
The second half was quite a scrappy affair and started with a long range Titchener penalty which put the Hawks in front.
Henley now had a bit of momentum, with Sam Lunnon making a good impact from the bench and they kept the visitors pinned in their own half. The Hawks eventually resorted to their tried and tested driving maul from a line out which has served them well in the past. They were able to score two driving maul tries in quick succession both from Morgan Macrae, one of which was converted by Titchener.
At 30-17, the Hawks were comfortable although Canterbury had another good spell using their driving maul to good effect but this time the Henley defence held firm and then they almost added to their score when a breakout from Morgan Macrae and Adam Hakimian came close.
The introduction of Henley youngster Charlie Sichel saw the Hawks win a scrum penalty and to avoid any last minute jitters, Titchener added his third penalty.
Canterbury, to their credit mustered one last attack and Frank Reynolds finished off a good move for their bonus point try right at the end which he himself converted.
The afternoon was finished off with Nigel Dudding being cheered from the pitch by both players and supporters.
George Wood, Reuben Norville, Louis Flynn, Max Titchener, Leo Webb, Cail Cookland, Will Crow, Rory Mason, Morgan Macrae, Ollie Frostick, Omar Ellaboudy, Ben Harrison, Marcus Lowe, Scott White, Tom Vooght. Subs: Kareem Niazi, Charlie Sichel, Sam Lunnon, Ewan Fenley, Adam Hankimian,
Report by Nick Pitson and Photos by Steve Karpa