HENLEY HAWKS 33 CANTERBURY 22
Poor defence, lack of real bite and a touch of bad luck conspired to send Canterbury to their tenth defeat of the season which pushed them down into the middle reaches of the National 2 South table.
A last minute opportunity gave the city side the chance to earn a couple of bonus points but they were inches short of a fourth try and left with nothing.
They started the game without a number of key players and in the first minute lost another when centre JJ Murray suffered a ham string injury. With only one recognised back among the replacements it did not augur well but that did not explain why Henley were allowed the freedom to dictate for significant periods, particularly in the second half.
You could not criticise the work rate of the pack, who scrummaged effectively and were on a par with the Hawks at the lineout, but they had to shoulder the burden of some poor tackling and handling outside them which reduced their overall effectiveness.
It was frustrating because, despite their weaknesses, Canterbury stayed in the game and were only a point behind at half time.
An early Hawks try, scored by prop Dave Manning, was cancelled out by a massive catch and drive which ended with Tom Rogers celebrating his 200th first team appearance with the touch down and Will Hilton converting. They fell behind again after Dan Smart’s yellow card for a technical offence and during his ten minute absence George Jackson kicked a penalty goal and wing Sam Portland was given an overlap for Henley’s second try.
The city defence was showing plenty of steel at this stage and when Hawks failed to crack it they kicked away ball and busy scrum half Kyan Braithwaite sent Kieran Thompson on a try scoring run. Hilton’s conversion attempt bounced off a post but Canterbury were still in business. But a more composed Hawks side dominated the third quarter as they repeatedly breached the gain line, won the penalties and tested Canterbury with their driving mauls. A catch and drive try for skipper Dave Clements and a conversion and penalty from Jackson opened an eleven point gap. Hilton cut that back with a penalty goal before Hawks, slicing through more pale tackling, got back on the front foot and a simple first phase move from a scrum sent Simon Perry over for a try.
With ten minutes left on the clock Canterbury at last found new energy and after pressure brought a sin-binning for Hawks Jake Albon, Braithwaite darted over from a quick tap penalty and Hilton ‘s conversion got them into bonus point territory,.
Sadly that was quickly thrown away by more indifferent defending and Liam O’Neill’s try sealed it for the Hawks. Canterbury finished the game pushing hard for another score and Hugh McCormick –Houston almost got them the reward which would have eased the pain of their earlier flaws.
Canterbury: A,Moss, G.Hilton, JJ Murray (repl D.Smart), W.Farris, K.Thompson, W.Hilton, K.Braithwaite, J.Green (repl A.Cooper), T.Rogers (repl M.Cantwell), S.Kenny (repl J.Green), R.Cadman (repl T.Burns), G.Edwards, M.Cantwell (repl H.McCormick-Houston), S.Rogers (repl E.Deacon), G.Micans.
|8||Bury St Edmunds||30||77|
|13||London Irish Wild Geese||30||57|
|W||7 Apr||London Irish Wild Geese||43-7|
|L||17 Feb||Bury St. Edmunds||26-46|
|L||10 Feb||Taunton Titans||12-21|
|W||13 Jan||Old Redcliffians||48-29|
|L||23 Dec||Tonbridge Juddians||19-22|
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