Henley Hawks return to Dry Leas having suffered ’the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ at Exmouth last week when the match officials confessed after the game that they incorrectly permitted Exmouth to alter their decision to take a penalty, in the 75th minute, from in front of the posts butkicked to the corner instead scoring what turned out to be a match-winning try whilst an unprepared Henley defence were understandably transfixed..
This result means that the Hawks are now only one point and one place above Barnesin twelfth place who have won two fewer games but are, with three the draw kings of the league. They have also registered eleven bonus points to the Hawks nine. They have begun to run into form, undefeated in their last three gameswith a very respectable26-16 victory over London Irish Wild Geese last week. They willinclude in their team two former Hawks’- Hugo Milford-Scott and Rupert Crossland
The teams met at Barnes in the fifth matchof the season when the home side registered their first league victorywith a poor Hawks defence conceding five tries. This game is acknowledgedto have been the Hawk’s worst performance in a season in which they found it difficult to find consistency . They will need to show the form showed against Chinnor, Redingensians and London Irish Wild Geese in a gamewhich can be regarded as an eight pointer between two sides who do not want to slip into the red relegation zone.
Having last week had a very disappointing visit to Exmouthwhen they fielded an almost unchanged side the Hawks have returned to a familiar scenario by fielding a much changed line-up
Amongst the forwards only Dave Manning retains his place in the front row although loose head prop Bradley Cook and hooker Stuart Philpott were on the bench at Exmouth and will form with him an RAF front row. At lock skipper Dave Clements will be partnered by David Hydewho has played in this position before , stepping up from No. 8. Marcus Lowe takes over there where he has impressed. The remainder of the back row Tom Hall and Rob Bell continue as flankers.
There is certainly a number ofchanges in the back division. James Comben, who was not fit last week , will make a rare appearance at fly-half for despite making 161 appearances for the Hawks since 1909/10, mainly in that position ,he has only featured once there in 16 games this season. He has scored over 1000 points for the Hawk, the vast majorityas first choice kicker . He could therefore give very useful backing to George Jackson his half back partner whose success as a kicker has been variable after a very successful start.
The coaching team of Nigel Dudding and Pete Davies will certainly be hoping that the reverse at Exmouth was a minor blip and the form shown against Chinnor and Redingensians returns and leads to a move up the league away from the scrapsbetween teams moving towards the ‘drop’ .
15. Joe Butler, 14.Xavier Andre, 13. Liam O’Neill, 12. Connor Hayhow, 11. Simon Perry, 10. James Comben, 9. George Jackson, 1. Bradley Cook, 2. Stuart Philpott, 3. Dave Manning, 4. Dave Clements, 5.David Hyde, 6.Tom Hall, 7. Rob Bell,
8. Marcus Lowe
16. James Hadfield, 17. Tom Emery, 18 Jacob Albon,19.Connor Morrison, 20. James Stevenson-Wright.