Henley Hawks have had a keen rivalry with Worthing Raiders over the years with some very memorable clashes between the two sides. For the Hawks, a 55-27 victory over the Raiders in the last game of the 2012/13 season secured the National 2 South title over Worthing and promotion to Division 1. This was in front of a record crowd of over 3,000 who packed into Dry Leas to see the Hawks put on a fantastic performance over their title rivals. The two sides next met in 2014/15 when the Raiders did the double over the Hawks, winning 30-7 at home and 28-22 at Dry Leas.
This season neither side has been able to escape from the bottom half of the league. Although the Hawks won 30-22 at Dry Leas in November, it's fair to say that neither side have consistently performed to the standards they are capable of. At present, Henley have the advantage of lying in 10th position in the league with 56 points with Worthing 12th on 44 points. The Hawks have also secured more bonus points, 14 to Worthing’s 12. However, the Raiders have been in impressive form of late, having notched up 3 wins from their last 4 games, most recently a 39-34 victory away at London Irish Wild Geese.
With both sides playing better than earlier in the season, it has all the indications of a close game. A victory for the Hawks would allow them breathing space in terms of relegation. They have returned to form since the turn of the year and arguably putting on their best performance of the season in their last game, in losing to league leaders Bishop’s Stortford 38-28 at Dry Leas. Their spirited performance deservedly picking up a try bonus point right at the death.
They need, therefore, to be able to travel down to the Sussex coast with the strongest possible side. However, there are a number of changes in the team, which seems to be inevitable week by week.
The good news is that this game will mark the return of the former London Welsh player, Alan Awcock at full back after a six week suspension. Also, the return of Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas who has been playing in the very successful England IRB Sevens side having left the Hawks at the end of the 2014/15 season, has been released by England following a foot injury he suffered in the Singapore Sevens. He will play in the centre at Worthing alongside Liam O'Neill, but usually operates in the back row.
The bad news is that leading points scorer, George Jackson has suffered an Achilles tendon injury. His place at scrum-half goes to Harry Burn who started for the Hawks for the first time against Bishop’s Stortford. He has earned his promotion following good performances for the Bulls since joining the club at the beginning of the season.
The Hawks will field a very strong bench with Dave Manning (prop), Rob Bell (back row) and Stuart Philpott (hooker) returning after RAF commitments.
Worthing Raiders vs Henley Hawks (Kick-Off 3pm)
15. Alan Awcock, 14. Simon Perry, 13. Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas, 12. Liam O’Neill. 11. Simon Perry, 10. Joe Butler, 9. Harry Burn, 1. Jim Hadfield, 2.Tom Emery, 3. Zania Montout-Alexis, 4. Dave Clements (capt.), 5. Jake Albon. 6. Tom Hall, 7. Scott White, 8. David Hyde
16. Dave Manning, 17. Stuart Philpott, 18. Rob Bell, 19. Tom Haynes, 20. James Stevenson-Wright,