Henley Hawks have a good opportunity to get back to winning ways tomorrow (Saturday) as they welcome the league’s bottom club, Westcliff RFC, to Dry Leas for their latest National 2(South) fixture. Kick off is 3pm.
The Hawks will be frustrated again with the loss at Clifton. It was a game they could have won and for the first half hour were excellent. The main positive to come out of the game was the Henley scrum that totally dominated the Clifton eight. However, Henley have been involved a number of close games this season where they have just not been able to force the win. This may cost them at the end of the season but the spirit and commitment of the whole squad cannot be faulted.
With last weeks defeat, the Hawks are still fifth in the league but they are now thirteen points behind the joint leaders Clifton and Esher. The clubs immediately above Henley, all won with a bonus point, now leaving the Hawks a little adrift of the top four. After this weeks’ Westcliff game, the Hawks have two tough away trips at third placed Redruth and then second placed Esher. Win those games and the Hawks can still have a say in what happens at the top of the table.
Clifton’s victory keep them on top of the league, level on points with Esher who won a tight game against Leicester Lions 34-31. Redruth crushed Hinckley 39-5 and Worthing beat Old Albanian 31-7. Clifton and Esher both have 68 points but Esher seem to be in pole position with two games in hand. Redruth have 64 points and Worthing 63 while the Hawks have 55. There were also wins in the league for Canterbury, Bury St Edmunds, Barnes and Guernsey.
Westcliff have not found life easy in National 2(South) this season. They have struggled to recruit a squad to compete at this level and have lost all 17 of their games so far. Last week they lost 52-10 at home to Barnes despite a few more encouraging results recently. Back in October, the Hawks travelled to Essex and won 36-7 in a game played in appalling conditions. The Hawks did the double over Westcliff in the unfinished 2019-20 season, winning 26-15 in Essex and 29-5 at Dry Leas.
There is plenty of other rugby involving Henley teams this weekend.
Also on Saturday, the Henley Bulls (2nd XV) have a friendly game away at Richmond RFC. Kick off is 2pm.
The Henley Vikings (3rd XV) are top of their league and they have a crucial game against the only team to have beaten them this season, Bracknell 3rd. The game is at Dry Leas and the kick off is 2pm.
On Sunday, the Henley Hawks Women have a home league game against table leaders Thurrock. Kick off at Dry Leas is 2pm.
Head coach Luke Allen has gone for consistency and kept most of the side that started at Clifton. There are just two changes for the visit of Westcliff.
Toby Gilbey has been given the opportunity to start at scrum half with Will Crowe providing cover on the bench. Similarly, Samson Adejimi starts at hooker with Tom Emery giving the bench cover.
15 Guy Rawsthorn, 14 Reuben Norville , 13 Terence Babarinsa, 12 James Davies, 11 Alex Harmes, 10 Monty Bradbury, 9 Toby Gilbey, 1 Brad Cook, 2 Samson Adejimi, 3 Rory Mason, 4 Jake Albon (Capt), 21 Ben Harrison, 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley
Reps: 16 George Probyn, 17 Tom Emery, 18 Will Benning, 19, Will Crowe, 20 Cail Cookland
A big thank you to G.D Evans Interiors for sponsoring tomorrow’s game.