The Wild Geese produce the goods against Henley

On Saturday 8th April the Wild Geese hosted Henley in National League 2 South in what was again listed as a ‘must win’ game. This time, there were to be no mistakes, with the Wild Geese coming out as victors by 41 points to 35. As can be gauged from the score-line, this was an exciting game with the Wild Geese coming back from a 19-35 deficit early in the 2nd half.

Report from John S Hunter

The early signs didn’t hint at what was to come later on, as Henley started stylishly and took the lead with a converted try after 5 minutes. However, the Wild Geese hit back 3 minutes later, with a good break by out-half Dan Grant-Adamson leading to a try by open-side flanker Tyler Bush, converted by centre Ben Kitching. After 20 minutes, a great run by full-back George Owen led to him scoring, converted by Kitching, to take the lead at 14-7. Henley responded 2 minutes later with a converted try to level the scores, and in the 26th minute, a clever kick ahead led to another converted try for Henley to retake the lead. In the 28th minute, potential disaster struck as Owen was yellow-carded. However, the Wild Geese survived the 10 minutes sin-bin time without conceding a point. No sooner had Owen retaken the field but he scored a brilliant individual try in stoppage time, to narrow the gap to 2 points at the interval.

Disaster seemed to be looming early in the 2nd half as, in the 3rd minute, a penalty kick to touch was not put away by Owen and this led to a converted try by Henley, to give them a two-score advantage of 28-19. In the 8th minute, a rare mistake by Grant-Adamson, when he also missed touch from a penalty, led to a counter-attack by Henley resulting in a converted try, to give the Wild Geese a veritable mountain to climb at 19-35 down. This was where the Wild Geese showed their strength of character as Henley were not to score again. In the 16th minute, a good kick ahead by Grant-Adamson led to the bonus point try by left-wing Tom Richards, converted by Kitching. 10 minutes later, a great break and try by Kitching, converted by him, gave the Wild Geese a narrow gap to close at 33-35. In the 32nd minute, the Wild Geese pack drove over from a line-out – prop Kerry O’Sullivan getting the credit – to take the lead at 38-35. Finally, in stoppage time, Kitching added a penalty goal to make the full-time score 41-35.

This was a game where the Wild Geese flirted with disaster more than once – 3 line-outs were lost to add to the foregoing items – but, individually and collectively, they came though on the credit side. Apart from those already mentioned (Grant-Adamson, Owen, & Kitching) who had outstanding games, honourable mention must be made of Scott Moore, the Captain and blindside flanker, who led by example – and the entire front row of Kerry O’Sullivan, Carl Gibson, & Charlie Connor, who scrummaged superbly throughout against a big and powerful Henley pack.

Unfortunately, this win does not ensure that the Wild Geese are out of the woods yet, as Barnes produced an improbable win at Canterbury to keep the pressure going to the end of the season in two games time. Worthing have the seemingly easiest run-in but, if the Wild Geese can maintain this form, there is no reason why they cannot stay in National 2.