It’s another vital game in National 2 (South) for Henley Hawks on Saturday as they travel to Bristol to take on league leaders Clifton RFC. Kick off at the Station Road Ground in Cribbs Causeway is 2.30pm.
The Clifton Club have dubbed this game, ‘The Big One’ and it is certainly an important one for the Hawks.
Since losing at Esher back in October, Clifton have won their last eight games and now top the league table by one point from Esher. Their last three matches include a local derby victory at Dings Crusaders and two wins have been by more than forty points so they are certainly the form team at the moment. Last week they won at Barnes by 50-26. However, the Hawks can be comforted by the fact they overcame Clifton earlier in the season 28-27 in an emotionally charged match at Dry Leas with a last minute penalty.
The Hawks will be frustrated that they weren’t able to turn their second half possession into points against Redruth. They also let Redruth back into the game after scoring two early tries but it shows just how open this league is with little to separate the leading teams. However, the commitment and endeavour from the Henley side cannot be faulted. Tom Hall was outstanding in the back row, supported well by Sam Lunnon and Marcus Lowe. Alex Harmes had a particularly good game and looked very sharp in the centre.
The race for promotion from National 2(South) is now certainly heating up. While the Hawks and Redruth drew last week, the other three teams in the top five all won. Clifton (64pts) stay top with their win at Barnes, one point clear of Esher who won 24-17 at Barnstaple. Esher seem to be in prime position with two games in hand. Redruth are still third but Worthing are now just a point behind them after a 33-19 victory over Canterbury. The Hawks are fifth, now nine points behind leaders Clifton so this weeks clash is vitally important if they are going to stay in contention with the promotion race. Elsewhere in the league, there were wins for Guernsey, Leicester Lions, Hinckley and Bury St Edmunds.
Hawks head coach Luke Allen has made seven changes, two of those positional for the trip to Clifton.
In the forwards, Brad Cook and Rory Mason both return at prop to join Tom Emery in the front row. In the back row, Alex Bradley returns to No8, with Marcus Lowe moving across to wing forward in place of Tom Hall.
In the backs, there is a debut at centre for Terence Babarinsa who joins on loan from neighbours Rams, for the remainder of the season. He joins the returning James Davies in the centre with Alex Harmes now on the wing in place of Rhyan Scott-Young.
There is no game this week for the Henley Vikings, Henley Vultures or the Henley Hawks Women.
The club are hoping to arrange opponents for the Henley Bulls (2ndXV).
15 Guy Rawsthorn, 14 Reuben Norville , 13 Terence Babarinsa, 12 James Davies, 11 Alex Harmes,
10 Monty Bradbury, 9 Will Crow,
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Rory Mason, 4 Jake Albon (Capt), 21 Ben Harrison, 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley
Reps: 16 George Probyn, 17 Samson Adejimi, 18 Scott White, 19, George Amphlett, 20 Cail Cookland