WESTCLIFF slipped to a 29-5 defeat at National Two South leaders Henley.

The setback was Westcliff’s was third in succession.

But manager Rick Compton could not fault the effort of his players.

“The lads worked hard in horrible conditions and as a group never gave anything less than everything,” said Compton.

“We were not able to fashion enough moments of quality to push a good side harder and were undone by some injuries that knocked us out of our stride at crucial times.

“To be honest the rest week next week can’t come soon enough.

“The attrition at this level over a 30 game season is significant and problematic for a club of our model and size.

“All will be glad of the opportunity to take a breather and reset for the final block of games that will determine the outcome of our first season as a National Two club.”

Westcliff arrived late for the game having been waylaid by a long motorway delay and conditions were everything that had been anticipated.

Cold wet and windy, Storm Dennis not quite in full flow but certainly making its early presence felt.

For the second successive away game Westcliff failed to secure the kick-off, turned over possession and conceded a converted try within two minutes.

A difficult task was already harder but Westcliff sought to respond and began to apply pressure, gaining both possession and territory whilst causing the home set piece some uncomfortable moments.

Pressure though did not bring immediate reward and when the Hawks broke out injury and misfortune for the visitors saw the hosts score a further converted try.

The final few minutes of the half again went against the visitors when in quick succession tight head prop Ewan Binneman departed with a rib injury hooker Billy Morrant was handed a technical yellow card and Henley scored a third try wide left to give them a 19-0 led at the break.

Westcliff opened the scoring in the second half with scrum half Chris Bolton touching down after a series of close quarter drives.

But Henley hit back with two tries of their own to secure victory and a place at the top of the table.

Westcliff remain in 13th.

Westcliff: Bannister, T Ford, Hogarth, Reed, Bean, J Ford, Weston, Morrant, Binneman, Scogings, Dartnell, Vandermolen, Reynolds, J Smith. Replacements: Meakin, Johnson, Marsh, Hopkins & Radzevicius