CHINNOR secured a hard-fought 33-28 victory away to Henley Hawks in a pulsating derby to retain their unbeaten record at the top of the table.

In front of a big crowd at Dry Leas, the Thame-based club were given a stern test by their hosts, who scored four tries themselves, deservedly claiming two bonus points of their own in the National League 2 South clash.

It was Hawks who struck first as slick handling between Sam Portland and Liam O’Neill put Jack Robinson over for the opening try which George Jackson converted.

Chinnor responded immediately.

Hawks failed to win their first line out and from the resulting attack, Chinnor scrum half Mike McDonald scored a good try.

The visitors kept up the pressure and took the lead with a try from George Oliver, who broke a weak Henley tackle to score. This time Bertie Hopkin converted to make it 12-7.

Henley enjoyed good periods of possession and eventually created a position.

Matt Tibbatts led a strong driving maul and, with Dave Hyde’s help, created enough space for the backs where Xavier Andre cut through the the defence to score. Jackson’s conversion put Hawks back in front.

However, Chinnor immediately restored their lead with a similar try for wing Phil Chesters following some good passing. Hopkin converted.

With half-time imminent, Hawks then gifted their visitors a try with an interception to Will Bordill, who appeared to be in an off-side position, when he collected Henley’s loose pass.

Hopkin’s conversion put the visitors 26-14 ahead at the interval.

Chinnor extended their lead just after the break, Ben Manning picking up the loose ball, and scampering over from 25 metres.

Hopkin added the conversion and with a lead of 33-14, the game looked out of Hawks’ reach.

However, to their credit, Henley never gave up and a clearing Chinnor kick was charged down by Liam O’Neill, who collected and raced over to score a try which Jackson converted.

The last ten minutes was littered with stoppages, but Hawks scored right at the end with a try under the posts from Tibbatts.

Jackson converted to end an excellent match.