Henley Hawks make the long trek to the Essex coast on Saturday to take on Westcliff RFC in their latest National 2(E) fixture. Kick off at Westcliff’s ‘The Gables’ ground in Eastwood, Southend is 3pm.
The Hawks got the job done last week against a disappointing Tonbridge side. They will now be looking at this week’s Westcliff game to get some winning momentum, as next they will play a couple of the stronger teams in the league (Blackheath and Worthing). The league is now wide open after last week’s results so the Hawks have to be targeting a bonus point win against Westcliff, the league’s bottom club.
Westcliff have struggled somewhat since their promotion to National 2 level. So far this season they have failed to register a victory and sit at the bottom of the table. Last week they suffered a heavy 71-14 in the Channel Islands against Guernsey Raiders. The Hawks comfortably did the double over the Essex side last season, but Westcliff did manage three wins last season and are also capable of scoring points. The Essex side were certainly not the worst side to visit Dry Leas last season and the Hawks will have to be on their guard so they don’t get a repeat of the disappointing result at North Walsham a couple of weeks ago.
Scrum half Will Crow played his first game back in Henley colours last week after a lengthy injury lay-off, replacing the injured Ewan Fenley. He looked sharp, orchestrated moves and moved the ball quickly. Tom Hall and Rory Mason also produced good performances, coming off the bench and making a big impact. The Hawks will be frustrated that they were unable to gain a bonus point last week but they will be pleased with the win and will be looking to play an expansive game at pace against Westcliff.
Head coach Luke Allen is consistent with his selection and has made just two changes to the starting line up for the trip to Westcliff. Prop Rory Mason returns to the front row with Luke Shpylka reverting to replacement duties. In the backs, James Davies returns to the centre. The experienced Marcus Lowe also returns to the matchday squad, providing back row cover on the bench.
After last weekend’s games, the league looks to be wide open as leaders Blackheath lost their first game at the hands of Old Albanian 24-19. The Old Boys now top the league table on 24 points – two ahead of Dorking and Barnes who both had good away victories at Canterbury and North Walsham respectively. Blackheath have slipped to fourth and the Hawks are fifth, just four points from the top. Worthing are gaining some momentum and are sixth following a good win at Bury St Edmunds 22-14.
The Henley Bulls (2nd XV) take centre stage at Dry Leas on Saturday with a league game against Ampthill 2nd XV. Kick off is 2pm (tbc).
Henley Vikings (3rd XV) make the short trip to Sonning for their latest league game to take on Reading 2nd XV. Kick off is 3pm.
Henley Hawks Women play on Sunday. They have a home game against Beckenham. Kick off is 2pm.