Following the loss at home to Clifton 23-13 last weekend, the Hawks travel to Hertfordshire to face Bishops Stortford who are in third place in Division 2 (South) having won eight of their ten games to date. With a points difference of 170 plus they have picked up ten bonus points.
The teams last played each other in 2014/15 when the Hawks had the edge over them winning 19-13 away and drawing 34-34 at Dry Leas. They were then runners-up to the Hawks in the league and last season pressed hard for promotion when they finished third behind Cambridge and Albanians who were both promoted to Division 1. This year they are again already established as promotion candidates.
Last week they were behind 24-14 at half-time away to improving London Irish Wild Geese but recovered well to win, albeit narrowly, 31-36 and finished up scoring three tries in the second half as did the Wild Geese but fly-half Tom Banks was their match winner with one try and four conversions, not needing to use the kicking skills of George Cullen, at centre, who has had much to do in Oxford University’s victories in the last two Varsity triumph’s over Cambridge with his kicking skills . Nevertheless he chipped in last week with a try.
In recent times Stortford have relied on home grown talent amounting to 70% of their squad. This has earned their 2nd XV promotion to Zoo Division 1 and the game between them and Henley Bulls, also at Bishops Stortford, should be a good contest as the Bulls have won their last three gamesBoth matches kick-off at 2.30 p.m.
The Hawks have made four changes for this game compared with the side that lost by ten points to Clifton which , with one major exception, the defeat away at Canterbury, has been the story of their season to date. They will start with the same front five and make one change in the back row as Connor Morrison is unavailable because of injury. His place at No. 6 is taken by Scott White who has featured in this position both this and last season.
Out side the pack there is a change at half back where Tom Parton will be partnered at scrum-half by the Hawks’ leading points scorer, with 100 points, George Jackson, who takes over from James Stevenson-Wright, who made his debut against Clifton, as he is not available.
Connor Hayhow is also not available because of injury but the experienced Liam O’Neill , now fit, will take his place. He will partner the Hawks’ most experienced player, Alan Awcock, who moves up from fullback. James Comben comes into the side to start at No. 15 where he has featured often this season.
There is one new name on the bench, Devlin Hope, who will cover at hooker, who is on loan from London Scottish, in the continued absence, because of work commitments, of Stuart Philpott. Hope played for Coventry against the Hawks last season.
This game will be a tough encounter for the Hawks as they attempt to stop a disappointing run of four successive defeats.
Henley Hawks v Bishops Stortford ( kick-off 2.30 pm)
15. James Comben, 14. Simon Perry, 13. Alan Awcock, 12. Liam O’Neill, 11. Cameron Ives, 10. Tom Parton, 9.George Jackson, 1. James Hadfield,2. Tom Emery, 3. Barnaby Abdale Weir, 4. Dave Clements, 5. Jake Albon, 6. Tom Hall, 7. Scott White, 8. David Hyde
16. George Primett, 17. Devlin Hope, 18.George Lane, 19. Joe Butler, 20. Tom Gardner