Henley Hawks head west again this week when they travel to play Taunton Titans in their latest National 2(South) fixture, kick off 3pm. The Titans Hyde Park ground ground is close to the M5. Always strong opponents, Taunton are level with The Rams at the top of the table while the Hawks lie 6th after their victory over Dings Crusaders last Saturday.
The Hawks confidence should be growing with two consecutive victories and the search for continuity is bearing fruit with the various units within the team, particularly the back row, improving with every game. With only six points separating the top seven sides now, and the league table beginning to take shape, the Hawks will be aiming to cement themselves in the top six and beyond. They won’t have it all their own way however as Taunton will have the same thoughts. The Titans are followed by a typical boisterous but fair West Country support so the Hawks will have to be totally on their game in order to take anything from the game.
The Hawks picked up a number of knocks last week but coach Luke Allen has again managed to name an unchanged pack from the one that started the previous week.
The pack has a settled look about it and has been performing well on the whole. In the backs, Jack Robinson replaces Finn Pietersen at full back and Sam Portland returns to the wing. There is also a welcome return after injury for Xav Andre who comes in to replace Connor Morrison who was injured last week.
Taunton Titans have played in National 2(South) for the last ten years and for most of that time have been one of the strongest teams in the league, consistently challenging at the top end of the table. They have not finished below 6th since the 2013-14 season. However, they have not yet managed to make the jump to the next level by winning promotion.
This season, they have again made a strong start winning all but one of their fixtures and are joint top of the table with the Rams. Their only defeat came at the hands of Redruth and last week they were pushed all the way by bottom club London Irish Wild Geese before winning a try fest 46-36.
Games between the Hawks and Titans have often been exciting and close affairs. Last year, with Taunton going well in the league, the Hawks put in one of their best performances of last season, winning an exciting match by 42-31 in Somerset, while the Titans won at Dry Leas 20-17 in the last game of the season to finish fourth in the league table.
15 Jack Robinson, 14 George Wood, 13 George Griffiths, 12 Xavier Andre, 11 Sam Portland 10 Roddy Giles, 9 Leo Webb
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Jake Albon, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley
Andrew Stobbs, George Primett, Adam Neale, Tom Hall, Ross MacDougall.
Also travelling to Taunton are the Bulls (2ndXV), who take on Taunton 2ndXV, kick off 2.30pm.
There is no game this week for the Vikings (3rdXV) and the Vultures (Vets) also have the chance to rest after their successful exploits at the Jersey Vets Festival last week.
On Sunday, the Henley Hawks women are at home for their latest league match against Thurrock, kick off 2pm.
Most of the mini and junior teams have training on Sunday morning but there is a game for the U15, they play a friendly at home against Bracknell.
There is an entertaining game at Dry Leas tonight (Friday) with Henley U20 playing host to the Henley College, kick off 7pm.