Rejuvenated Hawks aiming to make it four in a row

Henley Hawks  vs Worthing Raiders - Saturday, October 20th, kick-off 3pm

By Nick Pitson

Henley Hawks return to home action again tomorrow in National League 2 (South) with an intriguing fixture against old rivals, Worthing Raiders. Kick off at Dry Leas is at 3pm.

After a magnificent win at high flying Taunton last week, the Hawks will be full of confidence and will be hoping to make it four wins on the bounce against the men from Sussex. Games against Worthing are often high scoring affairs, and with the weather set fair, hopefully spectators will be treated to another exciting game of rugby.

The Hawks now lie an impressive fourth in the league table, and a fourth successive victory will go a long way to cement their position near the top of the league and continue the momentum into the winter months of the season. The Hawks have managed to field a very settled forward pack over the last five games, and they have been able to set a platform for the team to build from. That, along with some excellent all round defence, has enabled the Hawks to get a foothold in recent fixtures to dominate proceedings. The young back line are now beginning to gel and improve with every match. However, the Hawks cannot afford to be complacent as the Raiders are always a tough side to crack.

Continuity is the name of the game for Head Coach Luke Allen as he names a side with just two changes from last weeks’ starting line up. Adam Neal comes into the second row with Dave Hyde taking his place on the bench. At full back, Finn Pietersen returns in place of Jack Robinson.

Worthing are no strangers to Dry Leas having visited nine times in National 2 (South) since their promotion to the league in 2007-08 season. They have been ever present in the league since then and are always a strong, solid side, particularly at home. It was the Raiders who were the opponents for that famous game at Dry Leas in 2012-13 season when the Hawks won 55-27 in the championship decider to win the league in front of 3,270 spectators, a league record.

The Raiders have made a solid start to this season, having won four of their seven fixtures including an impressive thumping of Redruth, 68-21. At present, only The Rams have scored more points than Worthing. However, they did lose 62-24 to Taunton, the Hawks opponents last week. Among their ranks is outside half Matt McLean who with 115 points is the leagues top scorer so far.

Last season, the games between the the two clubs were even with the home side prevailing in each game. The Raiders won 55-41 at their Roundstone Lane Ground while the Hawks won at Dry Leas 43-28. Worthing finished seventh last season, two places above the Hawks.

Henley Hawks

15. Finn Pietersen, 14. George Wood, 13. Ryan O’Neill, 12. Xavier Andre, 11. Sam Portland 10. Roddy Giles, 9. Leo Webb

1. Brad Cook, 2. Tom Emery, 3. Dave Manning, 4. Jake Albon, 5. Adam Neal, 6. Sam Lunnon, 7. Marcus Lowe, 8. Alex Bradley

Reps:

Andrew Stobbs, George Primett, Rory Mason, Dave Hyde, Tom Hall, Ross MacDougall.

The club are fielding four sides on Saturday. As well as the Hawks, the Bulls (2ndXV) are also at home to Worthing, kick off at 2.30pm.

The 3rd (Vikings)XV are on their travels, this time to play Amersham and Chiltern 2ndXV in a league match, kick off 3pm.

The Vets (Vultures)XV travel to West London to take on Barnes.

On Sunday, there is no game for Henley Women this week, but the U13 travel to Milton Keynes, while U14 have a game away at Chesham.