Blackheath 19-37 Henley Hawks Women
By Emma Leonard & Lininia Kaufana
After a long and tough season, the Hawks were finally rewarded a win they had been fighting for. The 37-19 win over top of the table Blackheath reflected what the Hawks are capable of, the team rallied together and everything they had been working on all season fell into place. The Hawks tactical game was strong, and their kicking game put Blackheath on the back foot as they struggled under the high ball.
The Hawks were rewarded for their strong start with a penalty in the first ten minutes, this was followed quickly by a try from Nina Webb which was converted by Cat Mcnaney, 0-10.
Hawks defence was strong, with the forwards successfully stopping their big ball runners in their tracks, however Blackheath were relentless in their attack and were award with a try that they were unable to convert, 5-10. Blackheath kept pressure on the Hawks, and after a long battle on the try line Blackheath were awarded with another try that this time, they were able to convert, 12-10.
Unlike in previous games the Hawks did not let this score get into their heads, instead they stuck to the game plan and were once again on the forward foot with great ball carries from Naomi Ball and Genevieve Moody which enabled the team to play in Blackheath’s 22, where a penalty kick by Cat took the Hawks back in the lead at half time, 12-13.
Hawks started the second half in a similar fashion to the first with the play makers recognising the space out-wide and the outside backs successfully converting the opportunities that came their way. This fantastic bit of play enabled Lininia Kaufana to find space and carry the ball over the try line, 12-18.
The Hawks pack may not be the biggest in the league, but they held their own through out the match, which ensured the backs could use quick ball from the scrums. One such time lead to Lininia scoring another try that was converted by Cat, 12-25.
Using their strong ball carriers Blackheath were soon back attacking in the Hawks’ half, where they were given a penalty try taking the score to 19-25.
With both teams putting their all into the game, Hawks finally sensing a win and Blackheath battling to turn the game around mistakes starting to become a regular occurrence for both teams. The Hawks being handed the first of three yellows, for a high tackle. Followed by two more yellows for Blackheath.
However, the Hawks did not let this affect their game, and with the ball making its way through most of the team’s hands it end up being taking over the line by Cat. Mia McCreesh converted to make the score 19-32.
A quick restart from the Hawks saw them back putting pressure on Blackheath, this high work rate from the team was rewarded with a turnover that allowed Nina to score again, 19-37.
In the closing minutes of the game Blackheath were determining to get another try but their effort was to no avail, with the ball being held up on the line by the Hawks robust forwards. Final score Blackheath 19 – 37 Henley Hawks
What a game. What a feeling. Bring on Bath on 26th January at home, after a shower!!
Peace out from your beloved Kiwis
Coaches Player - Naomi Ball. Nay ball carried strongly going forward with ball in hand and creating space out wide. Her work rate was high all afternoon and she made numerous tackles. As well as being a big part of a scrum which held it's own against a significantly heavier opposition pack.
Player's Player - Lininia Kaufana. Lini contributed hugely to the tactical kicking game. Her box kicks forced several mistakes which gave us territory and more often than not, that was converted in to points scored. She scored two tries herself as well as being with the ball constantly in support.
Coaches thoughts -
I'm hugely proud of everyone involved whether coaching, playing, spectating etc. It's been a tough first half of the season and we knew in order to maintain our status in this league next season we would have to perform better.
Tactically when we entered the opposition territory more often than not we converted this in to points scored. Which meant Blackheath had to chase the game.
There were some very pleasing performances and the two things which pleased the coaching team the most were the work rate of players and their ability to turn the ball over and then move it wide to space.
It's a big statement in the league and should provide us with momentum, confidence and positivity. Let's hope we can continue to build on all three in the training sessions to come.