First Half Collapse
CANTERBURY 33 HENLEY HAWKS 43
by David Haigh
Canterbury Head Coach Matt Corker said that this National 2 East game against fourth placed Henley would be a test of how far his side have progressed this season. At the end of the first half with the Hawks in a commanding 31-7 lead and Canterbury’s four match winning streak collapsing he was left with plenty to think about. It was only in the last twenty minutes that the city club produced the effective rugby their coach is looking for as they ran in four tries to rescue a losing bonus point. What went before was a tale of repeated errors which were punished ruthlessly as Canterbury lost the ball in contact, struggled at the set pieces and handed Hawks all the space they needed. The visitors scored five tries in the first half, the opener coming from hooker Istok Totic, and although there was a similar catch and drive reply from Nathan Morris, converted by Frank Reynolds, Canterbury offered little else. They could not contain Henley’s direct running and slick off-loading which brought excellent tries for Zack Taylor, Adam Hakimian, Sam Lunnon and George Wood. Three conversions by Max Titchener completed what was threatening to become a rout. Those fears looked well founded as Canterbury conceded two further tries in the opening twelve minutes of the second half when Totic claimed his second touchdown and scrum half Leo Webb darted through a gap. Titchener’s conversion made it 43-7. Faced with embarrassment, the city side at last found the energy, control and sharpness in attack to force themselves back into the contest. It started with Eoin O’Donoghue’s mauled score in the 59th minute and a second came quickly as Tom Best put in a typical finish. O’Donoghue’s second won the bonus point before Shay Kerry got over the line in the final play. Reynolds boosted the scoreline with three conversions but that late surge could hardly disguise the fact that Canterbury in this game were only a half decent side.
Canterbury: W.Waddngton, G.Jones (repl B.Law), F.Morgan, T.Best, A.Moss, F.Reynolds, T.Williams (repl B.Cooper), C.Macmillan (repl E.Lusher), N.Morris, W.McColl (repl D.Herriott), S.Kerry, J.De Vries (repl S.Rogers), J.Stephens, E.O’Donoghue, T.Oliver.