Henley Bulls 21-24 Richmond Normans
By Tom Haynes
The Bulls kicked off 2022 with home game against Richmond at Dry Leas. Difficult wet and windy conditions were going to make a flowing game hard, but credit to both teams as they made it an entertaining match.
The Bulls had a number of players playing out of position and had to move players around. They kicked off and the big tackles started. In the early stages both teams were testing the close quarters, and it was Richmond that got the up hand and moved into the Bulls half. Scott White, Will Benning and Rhys Amos were leading the tackle count. Jim Hadfield and Dan Folley joined in the action with some big tackles of their own. Soon the pressure told and Richmond scored out wide after drawing the defence in narrow. Straight from the kick off the Bulls responded, a charged down kick and ball fell to Toby Gilbey who sprinted through to give ball onto Guy Rawsthorn who was caught just short. The ball was recycled and White dived over. This gave confidence to the home side and the Bulls were now looking to run everything. Gilbey with a quick tap penalty and break was unlucky not to find James Christian in support.
Leo Webb was on hand with the next break, a great hit and Rawsthorn gave him the ball to take play up to the Richmond twenty, but the defensive effort from Richmond allowed them to turn the ball over. This was the story of the remainder of the half, bar one mistake which allowed Richmond in to take the score to 12-7 at the break.
The second half kicked off with the Bulls looking to continue to attack and keep the ball alive. Benning was keeping Richmond honest at the scrum by breaking off and winning the gain line battle. Rawsthorn was bringing Sam Allen and Ben Venner into the game by finding space for them to make half breaks. It was the Rawsthorn, Venner combination that brought the next score, Rawsthorn spotting the gap behind with neat little grubber kick for Venner to run onto and use his pace to out run the defence. Richmond then replied with two quick tries of their own to make the score 24-14 with twenty minutes to go.
The Bulls kept looking to play and were finding holes in the Richmond defence, White was next to make a break and find Oscar Gutierrez only to be caught short by a scrambling defence. Gilbey was next to make a break out of his twenty two, unfortunately only for his kick ahead to go out on the full. Venner went close again from a smart kick through from Rawsthorn. Venner then did score, Allen with a great counter attacking break made it into the Richmond twenty two for the ball to be quickly recycled and moved out by Jack Allison to Venner who stepped his defender and scored in the corner.
The Bulls stuck at it but couldn’t quite find a way through and the game ended 24-21 to. Richmond, A very entertaining game played by two even teams.
Picture by Gee Harland.