Brace of Tries From Belling Sees Hawks Win Away Against Wimbledon

Wimbledon 22-30 Henley Hawks 

A brace of tries from Will Benning helped Henley Hawks come away from their clash with Wimbledon with a try bonus point victory to move them level on points with fourth-placed Bury St. Edmunds.

The match was played in testing conditions given the amount of rain that had fallen during the week, making the pitch very boggy in parts and unsurprisingly meant that there were plenty of unforced errors from both sides throughout the contest.

It was the home side, fresh from their morale-boosting win at Bury St. Edmunds the week before, who started the game on the front foot. However, excellent defence from Henley gave them an opportunity to clear their lines.

A searing break from Lailand Gordon and further bulldozing runs from Kadeem Collins and Ryan Crowley moved the Hawks into a promising position. Henley were starting to ask plenty of questions and a high tackle from the home side gave the Hawks a penalty on the Wimbledon 22, which Jordan Oatley duly dispatched to give them an early 3-0 advantage.

However, the home side were quickly back on the attack and a yellow card to Hawks prop, Kadeem Collins for playing the ball on the floor gave them an attacking platform to get themselves into the game. The ball was eventually spun wide to centre Bradley Pinkham who crashed over to give Wimbledon the lead. With Ed Morgan adding the extras, the home side had moved to a 7-3 advantage.

Both sides were guilty of handling errors in the wet conditions, but a scrum penalty for Henley gave Oatley a chance to kick to touch 5 yards out from the Wimbledon line. With the catch and drive working well, Will Benning was the man to dot down to restore Henley’s lead to 10-7 with Oatley’s conversion sailing between the sticks.

The Hawks were playing with more confidence and almost scored a sensational second when Gordon nearly put the finishing touches on a George Wood kick-through, but frustratingly for Henley the ball was knocked on over the line.

However, the frustration was short lived as a penalty try on the stroke of the half time whistle following another excellent driving maul gave Henley a 17-7 lead heading into the break.

The second half started the same as the first with Oatley adding to his tally with another penalty. Morgan responded for the hosts shortly afterwards to pull it back to 20-10 before Benning added his second of the afternoon after the ever-present Number 8 peeled off the back of a driving maul to touch down out wide. Oatley was narrowly wide with his conversion but Henley had built a convincing 25-10 lead heading into the final quarter.

That lead was extended even further with 12 minutes remaining after replacement hooker Istok Totic burrowed over the line following another impressive driving maul. The try secured the bonus point for Henley, however Oatley’s conversion again was just wide in difficult conditions for both kickers.

At 30-10 up going into the final 10 minutes, Henley allowed the hosts to get themselves back into the contest when a late brace of tries from flanker David Aniebonham pulled the score back to 30-22, but it was too little too late as the Hawks registered their first win in three games heading into next Saturday’s clash at basement club North Walsham Vikings.

Henley Hawks

1. Collins, 2. Emery, 3. Mason, 4. Lowe, 5. Lunnon, 6. White, 7. Vooght (c),  8. Benning, 9. Crow, 10. Oatley, 11. Gordon, 12. Rawsthorn, 13. Crowley, 14. Wood, 15. Evans

Replacements: 16. Totic, 17. Bailey, 18. Hayton, 19. Hakimian, 20. Pattison

By Alistair Beynon

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