Hawks Win Final Home Game Battle Against Canterbury

Henley Hawks 36-35 Canterbury

Henley Hawks final home game of the season was an end-to-end battle that saw Henley edge past Canterbury, 36-35 and move back up to fourth place in National 2 East with just one game remaining. Six tries, including a first half brace for Guy Rawsthorn, helped the Hawks overcome the Kent side in a contest played out in beautiful spring sunshine.

It was an emotional day as the club said farewell to Tom Emery, Alex Bradley, Will Crow, Tom Vooght and Adam Hakimian, who are either retiring at the end of the season or moving on to pastures new, and the result was the perfect send-off.

With the weather set fair, It was Henley who were first on the scoreboard with barely a minute gone after Rawsthorn crashed over following an Alex Hayton break. Max Titchener was narrowly wide with his conversion, but the Hawks had an early foothold.

With Rawsthorn picking up a yellow card for a dangerous high tackle, a Frank Reynolds penalty for the visitors narrowed the gap shortly afterwards. However, Henley pulled further ahead 5 minutes later thanks to Emery being the one to put the finishing touches on an excellent driving maul. Titchener was narrowly off target again with the extras, but Henley had built a 10-3 advantage with 15 minutes gone.

Canterbury refused to yield and hit back when Will Hilton finished a flowing move out wide to make it 10-8. Reynolds missed the conversion, but the score was a stark reminder for Henley not to take the visitors for granted.

The try certainly galvanised Henley as just after the half hour mark, livewire centre Ryan Crowley was the first to collect his delicate chip through, and his offload eventually found George Wood whose inside pass to Rawsthorn saw the full back dodge his way past a couple of errant tackles to cross in the corner for a superb third try. Titchener converted brilliantly from the touchline and Henley had built an imposing 17-8 half time lead.

The second half saw the visitors come out with all guns blazing and were in the ascendancy right from the off. Openside flanker Harvey Furneaux’s close range try brought the score back to 17-15 after 42 munutes, and a second Reynolds penalty gave Canterbury the lead for the first time shortly afterwards.

However, despite being second best in the contest so far, Henley dug deep and reclaimed the advantage when Crowley was the first to touch down his own kick through to edge the Hawks back in front, 22-18 after 52 minutes.

In what was now proving to be a real end-to-end contest, the lead changed hands again following Will Waddington’s powerful surge before the Hawks hit back just after the hour mark when George Wood scythed his way through the Canterbury defence for an excellent solo score. It was yet another superb try for the wing who has certainly put together a significant highlights reel this season.

Henley secured victory when Dave Manning burrowed over on 78 minutes to make it 36-28 thanks to Titchener’s conversion, but the visitors secured a deserved second bonus point on the stroke of full time when Furneaux touched down for his second of the afternoon. It was a thrilling battle and a great advert for National League rugby.

With Tonbridge Juddians losing at home to Barnes, Henley reclaimed fourth position on the basis of number of games won. The Hawks final game of the 2023/24 season is away to Guernsey Raiders on Saturday, April 27th, kick-off 3pm.

Henley Hawks

Tries: Rawsthorn 1, 32, Emery 13, Crowley 52, Wood 62, Manning 79

Conversions: Titchener 33, 63, 80

Rawsthorn, Wood, Crowley, Hakimian, Gordon, Titchener, Webb (Crow 60), Manning, Emery (Macrae 50), Mason (Frostick 72), Hayton (White 64), Lunnon, Lowe, Vooght, Bradley (Benning 56)

Reps: Macrae, Frostick, Benning, Crow, White

Report by Alistair Beynon and Photo by Andrew Turner


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