Dings Lose Narrowly At Henley
Crusaders get a bonus point in defeat
DINGS returned from Henley with a losing bonus-point but it might have been more had their kicking game been on point. The home side came through this tough encounter 20-15 but it was the visitors who dominated the later part of the game to finish in the ascendency.
There's no doubt that the Hawks were on top early on, though, and the heavy drizzle and gusting winds dictated that the home side would take the visitors on with their impressive pack of forwards. Henley took the lead on seven-minutes with a Roddy Giles penalty and moved further ahead three-minutes later when lock David Hyde crashed over after a series of close-range pick and goes. Giles again bisected the uprights to make it 10-0 before Dings fired a shot.
Crusaders did gradually get themselves back into the game with skipper Jake Holcombe leading the charge with some strong carries from No8. Dings lost play-maker Ben Bolster with an eye injury early on and it was his replacement at fly-half, Steve Plummer, who got the visitors off the mark with a 34th minute penalty.
Dings had a chance to cut the deficit still further on the stroke of half-time, but turned down a shot at goal, preferring instead to kick to the corner for a line-out they lost and the chance was gone.
The home side made it 17-3 on 49 minutes after prop David Manning crossed for an unconverted try after a poor clearance kick from Dings went out on the full, setting up the Hawks' field position. But Crusaders began to find their mojo midway through the half and the introduction of hooker Will Capon from the bench added real energy and thrust into the visitors attacks. Prop Ash Challenger and debutante Ehize Ehizode also caught the eye with some barnstorming runs after the break but it was Capon who started the Dings revival with an unconverted try on 68 minutes.
Giles added his second penalty to make it 20-8 on 70 minutes and it looked as though Dings would leave Dry Leas empty handed. But Crusaders finished strongly, rounding off a multi-phase attack with replacement full-back Jordan Gratton touching down for an unconverted try to grab a valuable bonus-point.