London Irish Wild Geese v Henley Hawks - Saturday, December 1st, Kick-Off 3pm
By Nick Pitson
Henley Hawks make the short journey to West London to take on London Irish Wild Geese at the Hazelwood Ground in Sunbury-on-Thames tomorrow in the latest National 2 (South) fixture.
Although their winning run came to end last week, the Hawks should travel with a good deal of confidence from their performances throughout the season so far. The Wild Geese lie towards the bottom of the league table so the Hawks will be looking to get back to winning ways.
Despite losing to Canterbury, Henley scored five tries, and battled back well in the second half, scoring in the last few minutes to ensure they took two bonus points from the game. It was a good quality contest between two good teams and a great advert for the league. It is no disgrace to lose narrowly to a Canterbury side that arguably were one of the best teams seen at Dry Leas for some time.
The forwards again impressed last week, particularly in the set pieces, and hooker Tom Emery continued his excellent form and crossed for a hat trick of tries. As well as the scrum, the driving play of the second and back rows continues to be a feature of the Hawks play. Spirit in the camp is good but the coaches will looking for a little bit more accuracy this week, particularly in defence around the breakdown.
Head coach Luke Allen has made four changes to the starting fifteen, three of them in the backs. The forwards continue to go well and the only change there sees Tom Hall come in to replace the injured Marcus Lowe. Both half backs are changed this week with Ross McDougall getting his chance at scrum half and Roddy Giles returning to outside half. Last weeks half backs Leo Webb and Finn Pietersen are both on the bench. The other change sees Jack Robinson return to the wing in place of Liam O’Neill.
The Wild Geese are the London Irish Amateur side and are still based at the Hazelwood Ground in Sunbury. They have struggled somewhat this season, currently standing 15th in the league table with only Birmingham, the Hawks opponents last week, below them. They lost their first seven matches of the campaign but since then have started to find some kind of form. They have won three of their last five matches including last week away in Guernsey by 20-17 so the Hawks will need to be at their best. The Wild Geese have also beaten Redruth and Clifton.
Last season they finished in 13th position, just two points above the relegation zone but they had some success against the Hawks. In the corresponding fixture last season, Henley won 24-17 in Sunbury while the Wild Geese took the spoils 36-19 at Dry Leas.
15 Sam Randall, 14 George Wood, 13 Dan Barnes, 12 Xavier Andre, 11 Jack Robinson 10 Roddy Giles, 9 Ross MacDougall
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Jake Albon, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Sam Lunnon (c), 7 Tom Hall, 8 Alex Bradley
16 Zac Clarke, 17 George Primett, 18 Scott White, 19 Finn Pietersen, 20 Leo Webb,
There are no games at Dry Leas this week. The 2nd XV (Bulls) also travel to London Irish with their game kicking off earlier at 2.15pm.
The 3rd XV (Vikings) are also away, travelling the short distance to play Maidenhead 2nd, kick off 2pm.
The Henley Hawks Women have no game on Sunday.