On their visit to Essex last week, the Hawks had to conquer not only some appalling weather conditions, but also an improving and resilient Westcliff side who pushed the Hawks all the way. That said, Henley, while not at their best, produced a performance worthy of a top team by winning the game and claiming an all important bonus point.
At the same time, table toppers Tonbridge, played at Old Albanian and only won 12-9. The Hawks bonus point victory saw them leapfrog Taunton into second place in the table, now just two points behind the Kent side.
After defeat against Taunton and stuttering at home against Redruth, the Hawks are beginning to build momentum again and given the weather conditions last week, would have taken a bonus point win at Westcliff before the game. The only blemish was the injury to Murray Bellis who was beginning to show some good form. The Hawks try scorers last week were Ben Bolster, Ewan Fenley and a brace for Sam Lunnon who is now the league’s top try scorer with 11. It also means that the number of changes made by Head Coach Luke Allen last week shows the strength in depth in the Hawks squad.
This week, there is a familiar look to the match day squad with four changes to the starting line up, one of those positional.
Reuben Norville reverts back to the wing in place of the injured Murray Bellis and Liam O’Neill returns to full back. The other change in the backs see Alex Burrage back in the centre with Connor Morrison reverting to bench duties. There is only one change in the forwards, where Charlie Hughes starts at prop, swapping places with Rory Mason who is on the bench this week.
Clifton RFC are a proud Bristol based club and one of the oldest in the country. They started this season in great form, winning six out of their first seven fixtures. This run included derby victories away at Dings Crusaders (31-10) and Old Redcliffians (31-15). Since their last victory against Bournemouth, their form has deserted them and they have lost the two most recent fixtures, away at Taunton and then surprisingly last week at home to Worthing. However, they are still in the upper echelons of the league, lying in 5th place.
Current form suggests the Hawks should triumph but Clifton are always a hard working and well coached side and games against them are never easy. Last season, the Hawks did the double over the Bristol side, winning 47-12 at Dry Leas and then 40-35 in a close high scoring game in Patchway. Last season, Clifton improved, especially in the second half of the season and finished in 6th position in the league table.
Liam O’Neill, Reuben Norville, Xav Andre, Alex Burrage , George Wood ,Ben Bolster, Ewan Fenley,
Brad Cook, Tom Emery, Charlie Hughes, Dave Hyde, Jake Albon, Will Bordill , Sam Lunnon, Marcus Lowe
Reps: George Primett, Scott White, Rory Mason, Connor Morrison, Samir Kharbouch Jack Robinson
By Nick Pitson
There are two other games at Dry Leas on Saturday.
The Hawks 3rd (Vikings) XV play Banbury 2nd XV, kick off at 2.30 while the Vets (Vultures) XV take on old rivals Richmond Heavies, kick off for this one is planned for 1.30pm.
The Hawks 2nd XV (Bulls) and Henley Hawks Women have no game this week.