After a break of one season Henley Hawks resume the rivalry they have had with Taunton Titans over the years. They are an ambitious side with excellent ground facilities but they have found it difficult to make the step up over the years often finishing in the top three. Last year they fell away towards the end of the season finishing fifth a position they hold now after thrashing London Irish Wild Geese away 49-24 away last week.
Over the years they havehad close ties with Exeter Chiefs and Exeter University who last season won the British University Championship with eight players on the Titans register. Former Chiefs are team manager Keith Brooking and full back Gary Kingdom who presently is top scorer in Division 2 (South) with 146 points , a position he held at the end of last season. Head Coach Tony Yapp will be well known to Hawks’ regulars as he played for Bedford in the famous match which Henley won in the 5th round of the Tetley Bitter Cup in 1998.
Taunton are a free scoring side with 414 points making them second to league leaders Chinnor with wing Aron Struminski leading the way scoring nine tries. The last season the two sides met was in 2014/15 when the Hawks did the double winning 1 5-10 (h) and 34-28 (a)
The Hawks unfortunately have to make changes to add to the challenge of continuing their improved form. Cameron Ives left the field after 16 minutes last Saturday but fortunately Connor Hayhow has recovered from his recent injury. The remainder of the backs are the same with the exception of James Stephenson-Wright taking over from Alan Awcock who is not available.
The changes in the forwardsconcern in the main the back row. David Hyde who has played the full 80 minutes in each game to date is rested to a degree by being a replacement. Marcus Lowe who has played consistently well for the Bulls at No.8 will therefore start there. In the same tenor Tom Emery will give way to Stuart Philpott at hooker.
The backs cover will be provided by Connor Murphy, last season’s first choice scrum-half who has returned to the Hawks on a dual registered basis with London Irish. David Hankinson who has been playing impressively for the Bulls at centre or No. 10 will provide cover forthe remainder of the backs
The Hawks have played with increasing confidence in their last two games and no doubt will strive to make further progress up the league table.
Henley Hawks v Taunton Titans (kick-off 4.30 following the viewing on the International Eng v Argentina)
A Pre-match 2 course carvery lunch at 1pm is available to be booked via Alan Rouse @ email@example.com mobile 07845 778898 for £16pp
15, James Comben, 14 . James Stephenson-Wright, 13. Tom Gardner, 12. Liam O’Neill, 11. Connor Hayhow, 10.Tom Parton, 9. George Jackson, 1. James Hadfield, 2. Stuart Philpott, 3. Barnaby Abdale-Weir 4. Dave Clements (capt.), 5 .Jake Albon, 6.Tom Hall, 7. Connor Morrison, 8 Marcus Lowe 16. Tom Emery, 17. David Hyde, 18, Connor Murphy, 19. David Hankinson, 20. Scott White