Henley Hawks 32, Chinnor 9
A STIRRING final quarter saw Henley Hawks confirm their superiority over Chinnor and stay top of National 2 South.
Chinnor, who were without first-choice centres Matt Goode and Sam Stoop, had the edge up front for much of the match, but Hawks always controlled the territory.
And while they lacked fluency in the first half, a near full-strength Henley scored three tries in the final 22 minutes to take command.
The home backs, for whom replacement wing Richard Briggs had a big impact, were really firing by this point as Chinnor tired.
To lose by 23 points was a little harsh on Chinnor, but the scoreline bodes well for Henley’s title challenge.
Chinnor fly half James Cathcart saw his first-minute penalty cannon into the post.
The visitors reacted first, with full back Henry Colver and prop Joe Pickett going close before wing Xavier Andre ran the ball clear.
Fly half James Comben put Henley ahead with a penalty on seven minutes, but his side were making a fair few errors.
Cathcart equalised with a 12th-minute penalty and Chinnor pressed well in defence.
The visitors struggled to make the Henley half, but went ahead on 29 minutes with Cathcart’s second penalty.
Henley gained a man advantage when Chinnor prop Andy Berry was sin-binned for an off the ball incident.
And they got their noses ahead just before half-time, when scrum half Jack Shaylor sniped over on the blindside for 8-6.
Hawks scored again just after the break thanks to a superb curving run and diving finish from Briggs.
Cathcart replied with a penalty and Chinnor took a scrum against the head.
Centre Danny Wells had enough strength to score Henley’s third try on 58 minutes after referee Marcus Caton consulted his touch judge, having initially ruled him held up.
Briggs produced another lightning run after Chinnor lock Tom Mowbray lost the ball, but poor passing ended Henley’s hopes of a further try.
Chinnor countered strongly after absorbing a lot of pressure, but wing Tristan Corpe kicked too long as he looked to outflank the home defence.
Hawks sealed a bonus point on 72 minutes via Wells’s second try on the right.
Comben converted this and his own jinking try late on.
Henley Hawks: Allen (capt), Nutt (Briggs 12), James, Wells, Andre, Comben, Shaylor (Carter 65), Maddocks (Penny 74), Dwyer, Hadfield (Milford-Scott 52), Clements, Winterbottom, Payne, Newman, Stapley. Rep not used: Woodward.
Chinnor: Colver, Gray, Fielding, Powell (Mountford 48), Corpe, Cathcart, Hopwood (Jones 61), Pickett, Holyland (Whelan 61), Berry (Stock 61), Mowbray, Smith, Swayer, Hastings (Whelan 38-46) (Harrison 70), Gilbert (capt).
Referee: M Caton (Notts, Lincs and Derbys).