Barnes vs Henley Hawks - Saturday, December 22nd, kick-off 2pm
By Nick Pitson
For their last National 2 South fixture of the year, Henley Hawks make the short trip to West London tomorrow to take on Barnes RFC. Kick off at the Queen Elizabeth Walk Ground is at the earlier time of 2pm.
Having played in appalling conditions for the last two games, the Hawks will be hoping for a dry day to give them a better chance of releasing the pacy back line.
It has been a tough season so far, especially weather wise in the last two weeks, but the Hawks have adapted brilliantly and have shown themselves to be one of the top teams in the league. They have currently won 13 out of their last fourteen matches, lying third in the league and a testament to the hard work of both the players and the coaching staff.
Last week, the Hawks produced a fantastic second half performance in testing conditions to overcome the solid Old Albanian by 33-12. The die hard supporters who braved the weather will have been pleased with the efforts, particularly of the forwards who again set the platform for a winning performance. Dave Hyde was back to his storming best and there were good performances from Sam Lunnon and Alex Bradley in the back row. Wings George Griffiths and George Wood along with Sam Randle showed showed some skill and running in attack.
The Hawks will want to keep the winning momentum going into the Christmas break, which will put them in good heart for the first match in the New Year when league leaders, and local rivals, the Rams visit Dry Leas.
Head Coach Luke Allen has kept consistency in his selection again, making just one change to the starting fifteen from last weeks game against Old Albanian. The one change is George Primett coming into the front row in place of Zac Clarke. There are also two changes on the bench, Vlad Dunbrava replaces Brad Cook and Liam O’Neill replaces Finn Pietersen.
Barnes are in their second spell in National 2 South. They were first promoted into the league in the 2014-15 season, lasting two seasons before being relegated. Last season they won the London and South East Premier League and this time appear to have adapted better to the higher status with a string of good results, particularly at home.
They currently lie in 11th position having won 6 of their 15 matches. Last week they lost 38-5 to second placed Canterbury but have produced some good performances so far this season including victories against high-flying Taunton and Tonbridge. Barnes visited Dry Leas back in September, losing a close contest, 26-24.
Before this season, the two sides met in the 2016-17 campaign. Barnes triumphed at home 36-14 in what was one of the worst Hawks performances in recent years, whilst Henley won the Dry Leas fixture, 18-16.
Although the London side have lost their last four games, the Hawks will need to be focused if they are to come away with a victory.
The Hawks line-up for the match is as follows:
1 George Primett, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Ross Parkin, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Sam Lunnon (c), 7 Scott White, 8 Alex Bradley, 9 Leo Webb, 10 Roddy Giles, 11 George Griffiths, 12 Dan Barnes, 13 Xavier Andre, 14 George Wood, 15 Sam Randall.
Replacements: Vlad Dunbrava, Elliot Deacon, Liam Goodison, Liam O’Neill, Ryan O’Neill.
Elsewhere, the Henley Bulls (2nd XV) also travel to London to take on Ealing, kick off 1pm.
The Henley Hawks Women have no game this week.