Hawks set for Canterbury challenge

Henley Hawks vs Canterbury - Saturday, November 24th Kick-off 3pm

By Nick Pitson

The weekend break seems to have done nothing to halt the Hawks momentum as they continued their winning run with a solid 24-15 away victory against a dogged Birmingham and Solihull outfit last Saturday, their seventh successive win.

Tomorrow brings the Hawks toughest test for a while with the visit of Canterbury RFC to Dry Leas, for the latest National 2 (South) fixture, kick off 3pm. This is the pick of the weekend’s fixtures in the league as Canterbury lie in third position, one place and just two points behind the Hawks. So 2nd v 3rd should be a close, entertaining contest with the men from Kent going well and looking for their fifth consecutive victory of their own.

The Hawks showed good character last week to win away at Birmingham, who have  proved to be stubborn opponents this season. The return of Dan Barnes in Henley colours as outside half proved to be successful as he was awarded man of the match for his performance. Again, the set pieces went well and there was some good strong running from the backs. Four tries and another bonus point leaves the Hawks just seven points behind league leaders, The Rams, who won away at Taunton last week.

Head coach, Luke Allen has made just one change in the forwards for Saturdays important clash. Marcus Lowe returns to the back row with Tom Hall on the bench. The pack has had a real settled look about it all season and is the main reason for the Hawks success so far.

In the backs, Dan Barnes keeps his place but moves to the centre replacing Ryan O’Neill who is a replacement. Finn Pietersen returns as outside half. Another settled selection all round.

Canterbury have won eight of their eleven fixtures so far this season and are enjoying their best season in National 2 (South) since their promotion in 2012. Their only defeats so far coming at the hands of The Rams, Redruth and Taunton.

Comparisons between the Hawks and Canterbury show the two clubs are very similar and that there is also little between them on the pitch. Last season the Kent side finished tenth, one place below the Hawks and both games were extremely close. There was a thrilling 17-17 draw at Dry Leas while Canterbury took the honours on their own ground, 25-24, so everything suggests a close game tomorrow. One player to look out for is outside half Ollie Best who is Canterbury’s top scorer this season.

Henley Hawks

15 Sam Randal, 14 George Wood, 13 Dan Barnes, 12 Xavier Andre, 11 Liam O’Neill, 10 Finn Pietersen, 9 Leo Webb

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

Reps:

Zac Clarke, George Primett, Ryan O’Neill, Tom Hall,  Ross MacDougall,

Elsewhere this weekend, on Saturday, the Bulls XV (2nd XV) also play at home against Tring RFC, kick off 2pm.

The last weekend of the Autumn Internationals will also be shown on the big screen in the clubhouse.

On Sunday, the Henley Hawks Women play their latest league game against Cheltenham RFC. The game is at Dry Leas, kick off 2pm.

Also on Sunday, the minis section have a training session. The U13 play hosts to Chinnor, while the U15 are at home to Abingdon. The U14 travel on Sunday to play Beaconsfield.