Bury St. Edmunds 41-32 Henley Hawks
By Nigel Dudding
Henley produced a mixed performance in their last game of the 2022/23 campaign. A sluggish start from Henley saw Bury moving the ball at pace and accuracy to produce a penalty try after only 6 minutes. Henley at this point seemed unable to impose their game strategy on the hosts who were enjoying the majority of possession in front of a large partisan crowd.
Indeed, they further added to the scoreline with their powerful number eight cutting a good line to score wide out. Fortunately for Henley, the conversion was missed but a twelve-point deficit still seemed a difficult assignment to overcome given that the visitors were struggling for some kind of consistency and continuity.
However, this seemed to boost Henley into action and a number of promising moves saw the visitors gain some territory and threaten the home sides line. From one such penalty, Max Titchener kicked a good penalty to open the Henley scoring. Almost immediately, Henley were back on the front foot and a superb driving maul over some 15 meters saw Bury illegally pull down the maul and Henley had their own penalty try awarded and it was game on.
This signalled the start of a period of dominance for the visitors and a series of punishing pick and goes resulted in a further penalty under the posts. The ever-alert Ewan Fenley took a quick tap and go but was was illegally tackled just short of the line and a second penalty try awarded. For the first time Henley were ahead and looking a good deal more confident.
Indeed, the scoreline improved as once again Fenley powered his way over for a good try after some excellent build up play from the forwards. Unfortunately, the conversion failed but Henley went into the break with a ten-point advantage which had looked decidedly unlikely after the first twenty minutes.
The second half started badly for the visitors, as some poor defence allowed Bury to score two quick tries within the space of 7 minutes and suddenly the game was all square once again. The edge that Henley had just before half time seemed to elude them and Bury capitalised on this with another good try as their winger showed strength and guile to power his way over. Coupled with another penalty Bury were now up and ahead.
There was some respite as Will Crow snatched onto a loose pass and run in unopposed under the posts to reduce the deficit to two points once more. However, this reprieve was short lived as Bury took control to extend the advantage to nine points after a well worked try penetrating a tired defence.
With five minutes remaining there was a glimmer of hope as Max Titchener’s penalty attempt hit the upright. Further Henley pressure on the home sides line unfortunately failed as Henley knocked the ball forward and Bury were able to clear their lines to the final whistle.
A slightly disappointing end as Henley surrender 5th spot to the home side and their five-match winning run came to an end. The squad can now look forward to a well-earned rest and building again soon for the challenges of the 2023/24 season.
The squad would like to thank all the supporters this year for some fantastic support not only at Dry Leas but also on their travels in National 2 East.
Henley: Wood, Scott, Flynn, Titchener, Hakimian, Cookland, Fenley, Mason, Macrae, Frostick, Ellaboudy, Harrison, Vooght, Lunnon, Lowe. Subs: Bradley, Niazi, Manning, Crowley, Crow.