Henley Hawks will look to avenge last weekend's heartbreaking defeat at home to Taunton Titans as they finish their away league programme on Saturday with a visit to London Irish Wild Geese at Hazelwood Drive (kick-off 3pm). It will be the first time the Hawks have travelled to Sunbury and they will be encouraged by the return of Tom Parton, who has not been available since the game against Cinderford on February 4th. Parton was involved with the triumphant England Under 20’s team that won the Grand Slam. He played in every game in the Championship at full back, a position he will play in against the Wild Geese.
Sam Portland, who scored the try of the match against Taunton last week, moves to his preferred position of left wing with Xavier Andre on the right as Simon Perry is not available. Their is also a reshuffle in the front row with Stuart Philpott starting as hooker in place of Tom Emery who reverts to the bench, whilst Ziana Montou-Alexis starts at No.3 while the hard working Jim Hadfield is given respite as a replacement, at least at the start of the game. The increasingly effective back five are kept in tact.
The Hawks, now secure in Division 2 (South) for next season having won four of their last six games and earning two bonus points in their narrow 25-24 defeat to Taunton Titans, will be playing a side desperate to win being one of five sides locked in the relegation battle.
Whilst the Hawks have been in the lower echelons of the league for most of the season, they have played their best rugby against the sides in the top six but losing away to Barnes, Barnstaple and Exmouth in the red zone has certainly hampered their progress this season. Indeed, they left it late to defeat London Irish home 25-24 thanks to a last minute try by Louis Flynn.
The Hawks will be very keen to win their last three games to secure a place in the top half of the league, but they will have to be on their mettle against a side in danger of sliding back to London and South East Division 3, which they won last season losing only once. They will also be smarting after losing to Barnstaple at home in a low scoring game, 12-5, last week. For once, their high scoring swift wing George Owen (21, third highest in the league) could not get on the scoreboard.
15. Tom Parton, 14. Xavier Andre, 13. Alan Awcock, 12. Liam O’Neill, 11. Sam Portland, 10. Joe Butler, 9. Harry Burn, 1. Dave Manning, 2. Stuart Philpott, 3. Ziana Montout-Alexis, 4. Dave Clements (capt.), 5. Jake Albon 6. Tom Hall, 7. Rob Bell, 8. David Hyde,
16. Jim Hadfield, 17. Tom Emery, 18. Scott White, 19. Marcus Lowe, 20. Tom Gardner