Resurgent Hawks face tough Taunton challenge

Henley Hawks vs Taunton Titans - Saturday, April 1st. Kick-Off 3pm

The Hawks go into Saturday's game against Taunton Titans with real confidence following last weekend's resounding 47-24 victory over old foes, Worthing Raiders.

The Hawks have been rivals with the Titans for numerous seasons. By and large, home advantage has been the deciding factor when both sides have met in the past. This was the case when the two teams met at Hyde Park last November with the Titans comfortable winners, 38-27.

Since then both teams have improved their league positions, with Taunton rising to 4th after a more than comfortable 39-20 victory at home to London Irish Wild Geese.

For a few seasons, Taunton were closely linked with Exeter Chiefs before they took off to secure a regular place in the Premiership. Gary Kingdom, who came to Taunton from the Chiefs, has featured as leading scorer for a number of seasons with his reliable place. He is the second highest points scorer in Division 2 (South) this season, with 261 points.

The player that caught the eye in the victory over London Irish was left wing Freddie Fraser who scored a hat trick of tries, the third deep in the second half with what was considered to be the try of the season.

The Hawks hit the ground running at Worthing scoring four tries in the first 26 minutes, so securing a bonus point before the hosts had hardly touched the ball. This followed probably their best performance of the season the previous week against league leaders, Bishop’s Stortford.

The Hawks have, however, made some adjustments to the team that played at Worthing. Unfortunately, they will be without Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas as he has been recalled to the England Sevens squad, so Alan Awcock moves up from full back to centre with Sam Portland wearing the 15 jersey and Xavier Andre coming into right wing.

There are also changes in the pack, where Jim Hadfield is preferred at tight head to Ziana Montout-Alexis who reverts to the bench. In the back row, Rob Bell takes over from Scott White.

There are also changes to the replacements where with seven players nominated two players will be withdrawn prior to kick-off.

With the threat of relegation having now passed by, the Hawks will be looking to move further up the table with a win and a top six finish is by no means out of the question.

Henley Hawks.

15. Sam Portland, 14. Xavier Andre, 13. Alan Awcock, 12. Liam O’Neill, 11 Simon Perry, 10. Joe Butler, 9. Harry Burn, 1. Jim Hadfield, 2. Tom Emery, 3. Dave Manning, 4. Dave Clements (capt.), 5. Jake Albon 6. Tom Hall, 7. Rob Bell, 8. David Hyde.

16. Stuart Philpott, 17. Ziana Montout-Alexis, 18. Scott White 19 Tom Haynes/Tom Gardiner, 20. James Stevenson-Wright/Charlie Davey

Taunton Titans Colours Crimson, black and white

Team Manager Keith Brooking

Officials: James Clarke

Assist 1: Andrew Jackson

Assist 2: Matthew Todd

4th:  As usual