Match Preview - Henley Hawks vs Worthing 19th November

Hawks Renew Rivalry with Worthing

Over the seasons there has been close rivalry with Worthing jostling for promotion. This was particularly true in 2013-14 when there was in fact a play-off at Dry Leas at the end of April. The teams were locked together at the top of the league having each lost four games previously .The prize was automatic promotion to National I with the losers having to play-off away to the l runners-up in Division 2 (North) Stourbridge with the Hawks having home advantage having accumulated the most bonus points.

The game at Dry Leas attracted a record club and league attendance of 3,270. The Hawks won a fine match, as coach Nigel Dudding summed it up, ‘with pace power and skill’. Four players of the current squad were on the team sheet on that day, Dave Clements, Liam O’Neill, Xavier Andre and Jim HadfieldIn a game which saw them score eight tries. 

Dudding was relieved that that they did not have to go to Stourbridge for the play off. He summed up “ Worthing have to go to Stourbridge next week which will be exhausting for them. The sad thing for them is the game is away from home again and travelling in this league is difficult”. In the end Worthing won through in the 83rd minute!

The Raiders got some satisfaction when the teams next played in the league, Division 2 (South) in 2014/15, on the Hawks suffering relegation by doing the double over them 30-7 (h) and 28-22 (a) although the Hawks again won promotion.

At present neither team looks likely to be promoted. Worthing have the edge lying in 10th place in the league having won 5 games whilst the Hawks languish in 14th position with three wins. Last Saturday they squeezed home against London Irish Wild Geese,26 -22, although out scored by four tries to three, surviving an Irish resurgence in the second half in which they scored 17 points, but their goal kicker Matthew McLean, who is the longest serving member in the team, vitally missed kicks – a familiar story.

The Hawks will field a side with changes affecting the backs.  Tom Gardner comes in at centre with Alan Awcock reverting to full back and James Comben starting at No.10. The forwards, who did well at Bishop’s Stortford remain the same but there is a strong supporting bench including Stuart Philpott (hooker), Connor Morrison (flanker), and Marcus Lowe (back row who has earned plaudits for hisplay for the Bulls). Cover for the backs is provided by James Stevenson-Wright who has experience in both half-back positions.

Henley Hawks v Worthing Raiders (kick-off 3 p.m)

Remember: Pre-match Lunch can still be booked Thursday via Mary 01491 574499

15. Alan Awcock, 14.Simon Perry, 13. Tom Gardner, 12. Liam O’Neill, 11. Cameron Ives, 10 .James Comben, 9. George Jackson, 1. James Hadfield, 2. Tom Emery, 3. Barnaby Abdale-Weir, 4. Dave Clements (capt.), 5. Jake Albon, 6 Tom Hall, 7. Scott White, 8. David Hyde 16. George Primett, 17. Stuart Philpott, 18. Connor Morrison, 19. Marcus Lowe, 20.James Stevenson-Wright

Henley Bulls also play Worthing ‘ A ’at home – kick-off 2.30 p.m.