The high flying Hawks halted Bury’s recent run of victories
Henley Hawks 27 Bury 20.
In a close fought game, ultimately it was Henley, buoyed by their outstanding win at Taunton the previous week, that craved the win just that little bit more.
With both clubs having strong links to the RAF it was appropriate on Remembrance Weekend that the match was dedicated to raising funds to the RAF Benevolent Fund. Following the minutes silence, the game burst into life with 3 tries in the first 15 minutes.
Dwayne Corcoran almost had Bury on the scoreboard within 2 minutes but with the line at his mercy he could not hang on to the ball after it had been slipped back inside to the onrushing winger.
Henley’s reprieve was short lived! Bury turned over the resulting Hawks scrum and from an attacking scrum of their own, Scrum Half Harry Anderson – Brown peeled away and had enough momentum to force his way over by the sticks. Fraser Honey added the extras.
Back came Henley quickly earning a penalty for Bury not rolling away quick enough in the tackle. The penalty was kicked to the corner and a well organised catch and drive ground its way up to and over the line, skipper Jake Albon credited with the score.
The frantic nature of the game continued.., attack and counter attack, as both sides looked dangerous with ball in hand. A bout of play ended with Honey’s fine tactical kick into the corner. The Henley line out was over thrown and Bury’s Man of the Match, Sam Bixby pounced on the ball for a simple score.
The second score looked to have put Bury in control. Scholes and King combined at another line out close to the Hawks line to put the latter in for a try but it was ruled out due to the hooker just having a foot in touch.
The mid point of the half saw the referee instruct Bury to change shirts as the clash of colours was proving too much for some people. The halt in play seemed to benefit the Hawks and it took a desperate last gasp tackle by Anderson – Brown to stop the rampaging Dave Hyde from going 60 metres for a score.
The Bury defence was now under severe pressure and it looked like an equalising score was certain until the final pass to Xavier Andre didn’t go to hand. However, Henley’s dominance in the line out saw them steal the ball and quickly transfer the ball to the opposite wing. Butler’s fine grubber kick through was just touched down by left wing Robinson before the ball went beyond the dead ball line
That Henley line out was to prove a potent force for the Home side. The quality of possession that Butler received, meant he had an armchair ride at Fly Half, often taking the ball up to the gain line before releasing the strike runners in midfield. Bury hardly touched the ball for the next 15 minutes and despite great work by Bixby and Stapleton, inevitably the pressure told on a stretched defence and Jackson knocked over a simple penalty to put his side into a 17 – 14 lead.
The closing stages of the half ought to have seen Bury get back on terms. A great catch and drive by The Wolfpack travelled fully 25 metres before Boyd Rouse was only halted by a desperate ankle tap. Lord and Kohler then combined well but just as Scholes advanced towards the line he was penalised for playing the ball when the referee deemed he had been tackled. Jackson kicked the ball from the field and Henley led 20 – 17 at the break.
HALF TIME HENLEY 20 BURY 17
One assumed the high scoring game would continue in the second half but instead it developed into an attritional battle that the Hawks just edged.
Bury did level the scores after only 90 seconds. Anderson Browns fine box kick clearance was chased and won by Kohler, he then found Snelling up in support but when the winger tried to return the ball back to him, the ball was deliberately knocked down and Honey landed a fine kick from 45 metres.
Another series of Henley attacks again generated initially from an attacking line out stretched the Bury defence but Jackson’s optimistic penalty attempt from the half way line was unfortunate to hit the cross bar and bounce to safety.
Honey did have his kicking boots on and he landed another fine penalty after 12 minutes to put Bury ahead. Again the box kick worked well for Bury, this time the Henley forwards were penalised for not retreating from the resulting kick.
Having won a couple of penalties, Bury then started to fall foul of Referee Gayther. Some decisions looked harsh and could easily have gone the other way, but Henley capitalised to launch an all out assault on the visitor’s line.
Henley tried to batter thir way over with wave after wave of strong strike runners but Bury hung on bravely. It was valiant defence but it was desperate and Henley seemed just that little more up for the physical encounter. A scrum 15 metres from the Bury line saw several drives for the line and ultimately influential No6 Dave Hyde prooved unstoppable from 10 metres. Jacskon’s conversion edged Henley 24 – 20 ahead with 15 minutes to go. To add salt into the wound Honey was also shown Yellow for deliberate off side earlier in the move.
Bury managed to cope with the loss of one man, but again it was mainly back to the walls stuff as Henley attacked with verve. Had Kohler hung on to an attempted intercept it might well have been a different finish to the game but as it was Bury were on the back foot desperately trying to stay in touch.
Honey returned to the field but the game was halted moments later following a sickening clash of heads at the tackle that left Sean Davis momentarily unconscious! Understandably the game was stopped for a long period to allow the excellent medical staff from both clubs to attend and ensure Davis was taken carefully from the field. (Happily, after a follow up visit to Hospital in Reading, Davis was safely discharged).
The game restarted with an attacking Henley scrum. Perhaps understandably, the Bury forwards having watched one of their own stretchered off, were not focused and a strong Hawks shove earned them a penalty which Jackson duly kicked to stretch the lead out to 7 points.
Bixby made yet another great turn over to give Bury one last chance to get level. It was going to take a supreme effort as they were starting from their own 22m line. They did make yards, they did earn a penalty but it was tough going against a fired up defence knowing it was the last play of the match and inevitably after making some 50 metres Bury could not hold one pass too many and the knock on signalled the end of the match.
FINAL SCORE HENLEY 27 BURY 20