Worthing 27 Henley 32
Worthing – Tries: Miles 48 Neilson 76 86 Sewell 79 Conversions: Dudley 77 Coxon Smith 86 Penalties: Govett 9
Henley – Tries: Bart 7 McNally 26 Comben 53, 72 Conversions: Comben 27,53,72 Penalties: 38,43
This game between old rivals turned into a pulsating and dramatic affair as Henely held out for their first win of the season on the road and in turn secured a fully deserved bonus point victory. With only 10 minutes remaining on the clock it seemed as if Henley were going to take the spoils easily as at this point they lead the home side by 32 -8. However they should have learnt from previous Worthing games as the home side nearly turned the tables in spectacular fashion with three tries inside six minutes. However Henley’s resilience shone through and they held out for a dramatic win.
The visitors started much the stronger with Henley’s set piece both accurate and at sometimes irresistible as they pressurised the Worthing scrum on nearly every occasion. The line outs were secure as Henley welcomed back Josh McNally after a three week lay off. Indeed the second row handed off his opposite number as he ran in from 20 metres for a well deserved try after 26 minutes. This followed an excellent try by Christoph Bart making a welcome return in Henley colours after only 7 minutes of play. The forwards were winning quality ball in all phases and this allowed time and space for the visitors to show excellent handling and support play skills with forwards and backs linking well in wave after wave of attacks.
A Comben penalty on 38 minutes signalled the start of his individual tally of 22 points and enabled him to also gain the Man of the match award from the local sponsors.
In some ways the game was decided in the 10 minute period before half time as Henley put up their best defensive display of the year so far. All Worthing gained from this was a penalty from Govett as the visitors line remained intact. With a 15 -3 interval lead it was clear that Henley still had work to do and their cause was not helped as Worthing scored 6 minutes into the half as Henley had the ball turned over and the home side hooker Miles was on hand to score mid way out. It was now 15 -8 and game on. However Henley were quick into their stride again and forced a penalty from a scrum for Comben to convert.
The game swung decisively in Henleys favour as comben again picked off two defenders and with some deft footwork scored a superb try from the edge of the 22 he again converted his effort to stretch the lead once more. Then with 10 minutes or so remaining a kick ahead from the Henley fly half saw the ball bounce into the visitors in goal area. To everyone’s astonishment the Worthing full back seemed to take an age to secure the ball. Meanwhile Comben had dived in speculatively at the full backs feet to claim an unlikely score. There was a tense moment as the officials consulted and then agreed a try had been scored. Once again Comben kicked the conversion to take his total to 22 points.
The next 12 minutes or so saw one of the most dramatic of comebacks as the home side threw everything they could at Henley displaying excellent support skills and determined running. Henley whose defence had been excellent until now seemed to fade with this onslaught.
However they eventually held for a well-deserved win and to take a great deal of confidence in the build up to the Christmas period.
Henley Nutt, ONeill,Bart,Wells (Baggett 30 mins) Allen, Carter, Comben, Maddocks (Hadfield 70) Brennan, Penny (Steventon 70) McNally, Woodward, Newman (Ashmore 65) Stapley, Dwyer.