After last weeks emphatic victory over league leaders Esher, tomorrow (Saturday) Henley Hawks entertain Guernsey Raiders at Dry Leas in their latest National 2 (South) fixture. Kick off is at the earlier time of 2pm.
It was an excellent performance at Esher, claimed by many observers to be the ‘performance of the season’ so far. Henley’s pace and resolute defence, especially in the second half were too much for the league leaders and Director of Rugby Nigel Dudding praised the whole squad for a fantastic performance, one that was thoroughly deserved. In fact, this was a performance that had been coming for some and it was only a matter of time before everything ‘clicked’.
The Hawks scored five tries including another one for Reuben Norville, taking his tally to 13 for the season and he is now the league’s joint top try scorer.
The Hawks victory has made the top end of the table more interesting and with ten games to go, they will still have a say in the final outcome. As Nigel Dudding said, ‘we’ll see what happens and just make sure we enjoy our rugby’.
Esher slipped to second place after defeat to the Hawks and the new leaders are once again Redruth, who won a tight game away at third placed Clifton 33-31.
Worthing are quietly going about their business in fourth place, just six points behind Redruth after beating Dings Crusaders 50-39. The Hawks are still fifth, 14 points behind the leaders.
Elsewhere in the league there were wins for Hinckley, Bury St Edmunds, Canterbury and Old Albanian.
This week Redruth and Worthing play the two bottom sides but Esher and Clifton have tricky away games at Hinckley and Old Albanian respectively so the Hawks have a chance to close the gap.
There are three changes to the side that started at Esher. It’s all change in the front row as Head coach Luke Allen has given starts to prop Ollie Frostick and hooker Samson Adejimi with Brad Cook also returning to the front row. The only other change is Cail Cookland starting at outside half, a position he held during the early part of the season. He replaces Monty Bradbury.
Tom Emery and Rory Mason take a turn on the bench along with the returning Will Panday and Joe Butler.
15 Guy Rawsthorn, 14 Reuben Norville , 13 Alex Harmes, 12 James Davies, 11 George Wood,
10 Cail Cookland, 9 Will Crow ,
1 Brad Cook, 2 Samson Adejimi, 3 Ollie Frostick, 4 Jake Albon (Capt), 21 Ben Harrison, 6 Sam Lunnon, 7 Tom Hall, 8 Alex Bradley
Reps: 16 Tom Emery, 17 Rory Mason, 18 Marcus Lowe, 19, Joe Butler, 20 Will Panday
This will be Guernsey’s second league visit to Henley, their first being in 2018-19 when they only lasted one season in National 2(South). The Hawks won both fixtures that season, 17-10 in Guernsey and then 60-28 at Dry Leas.
In the 2019-20 season, they won promotion from the London and South East Premier Division having finished second.
This season, the Channel Islanders made a great start to the campaign, winning seven of their first eight fixtures, including a 17-16 home win over the Hawks. Since then, their form has not been as consistent, but they are eighth in the table having won eleven of their seventeen matches to date.
Also in action on Saturday are the Henley Bulls (2ndXV). They take on Guernsey based St Jacques, also at Dry Leas. Kick off time is to be confirmed.
The Henley Vikings (3rdXV) have another league game, away at local rivals Maidenhead 3rd. Kick off at Braywick is 2.00pm.
The Henley Hawks Women have a League game on Sunday. They are at home to Bath. Kick off is 2pm