As the season comes towards its conclusion, Henley Hawks play their last home game of the campaign on Saturday, when Barnes RFC make the short trip from West London for a National 2 (South) fixture. Kick off is at 3pm.
Hawks head coach Luke Allen was quick to acknowledge that Leicester had been by far the better side last week but he also felt that things had not gone the Hawks way recently. Skipper Jake Albon limped off with an injury not long after the start and there was a quick reshuffle of the side. This season the squad has been depleted with injuries resulting in some players playing out of position but there was fantastic heart, desire and intent in the performance at Leicester and the players and coaches look forward to getting back to winning ways against Barnes this week.
Following last week’s disappointing result at Leicester Lions, the Hawks will want to finish their home fixtures in style and give the faithful supporters something to cheer about after an inconsistent run in the last few weeks.
The Hawks squad shows five changes to the side that started at Leicester. In the backs, George Wood returns to the wing, while Cail Cookland also returns at outside half and Will Panday moving back to centre. In the forwards, there are returns for Ben Harrison in the second row and Tom Hall in the back row. In the absence of Jake Albon, Sam Lunnon Will skipper the side.
Henley: 15 Guy Rawsthorn, 14 George Wood, 13 Will Panday, 12 Terence Barbarinsa, 11 James Davies, 10 Cail Cookland, 9 Toby Gilbey,
1 Rory Mason, 2 Tom Emery, 3 George Probyn, 4 Sam Lunnon (Capt), 21 Ben Harrison, 6 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley, 7 Tom Hall.
Reps: 16 Barnaby Vaughan, 17 Samson Adejemi, 18 Will Bordill, 19 Sam Allen, 20 George Amphlett.
The 38-12 defeat at Leicester leaves the Hawks in sixth place in the league but the fifth placed Leicester club have now pulled eight points clear of the Hawks. It looks as if the Hawks will finish sixth unless they slip up in their last two games as Bury St Edmunds in seventh are only three points behind.
Barnes have proved to be an awkward side to beat this season and have now established themselves as a solid National 2 side so it will not be an easy game for the Hawks. Barnes are currently in 11th position in the table with nine victories this season. One of those wins was a 17-10 win at high flying Redruth back in January. When the Hawks visited West London back in December, the two sides shared a 17-17 draw. Barnes will come to Henley with renewed confidence after their 38-36 victory over Old Albanian last week.
It looks as though the title will now be decided between Esher and Redruth who also have two games to play. Esher are in pole position and have Worthing and Rochford to play. They are four points ahead of the Cornishmen who play Barnstaple and then Leicester.
Also at home on Saturday are the Henley Bulls (2ndXV) who take on Rams Titans. Kick off is 2.30pm.
Henley play their final league match next Saturday when they travel to St Albans to take on Old Albanian.