The two leading clubs in Oxfordshire meet at Dry Leas on Saturday in a game that has the aura of a cup final. This is the return of the game at Chinnor, played in September, which the home side won 39-20. This clash between the two rivals has additional spice as the second half of the season starts with Chinnor unbeaten and leading Division 2 (South) by just one point from second placed Cinderford, in their quest to get promotion to Division 1 for the first time
The Hawks return to form, after a disappointing start to the season, does mean that they are not overawed at the prospect of meeting the unbeaten league leaders. Having won their last three games, the Hawks will have to be at their very best to beat a side that have won 14 of their 15 league games to date. Their only slight blemish came on the opening day of the season where they were held to a draw by Clifton. However, they have been involved in several close contests of late. Firstly away at Bury St. Edmunds, 37-34 and at home to Taunton Titans 13- 7, who lost their previously unbeaten record at home to the Hawks on November 4th.
Almost predictably the Hawks will not be able to face this challenge with an unchanged side - the consequence of their semi-professional status. Once again it is the front row of the scrum that suffers the most. With Tom Emery unavailable, John Wunder moves up from the bench but Joe Morris, now released by Worcester Warriors takes over at tight head from last week’s debuntant Keiran Ball. The other change in the pack is at No. 8 where Matthew Tibbatts replaces the injured Marcus Lowe.
The backs, who have been in good form of late, show just one alteration and this is at full back where Alan Awcock, who is now avaiable on a regular basis, succeeds the promising Jack Robinson.
We are expecting a large attendance for Saturday's game, so please allow plenty of time to get to the ground.
Hawks vs Chinnor (Saturday, 23rd December - Kick-Off 3pm)
1. George Primett, 2. John Wunder, 3. Joe Morris, 4. Dave Clements, 5. Jake Albon (capt.), 6. David Hyde, 7. Tommy Haynes, 8. Matthew Tibbatts, 9. George Jackson, 10. Joe Butler, 11. Sam Portland, 12. Simon Perry, 13. Liam O’Neill, 14. Xavier Andre, 15. Alan Awcock
A number of players have been nominated as replacements and the final selection will be made from :-
Forwards: Keiran Ball (prop), Matt Hodson (hooker), Jim Hadfield (prop), Scott White (back row)
Backs: Iwan Macrae, Jack Robinson, Luca Towsend, Will Janes