By Nick Pitson
Guernsey Raiders v Henley Hawks - Saturday, December 8th, Kick-Off 3.30pm
It’s uncharted territory for Henley Hawks tomorrow as they make the long journey to the Channel Islands to take on Guernsey Raiders in their latest National 2 (South) fixture. This is the first time the Hawks have played the Islanders although they have been to the Channel Islands before having played Jersey RFC in recent seasons. The kick off at Footes Lane in St Peter Port, Guernsey is 3.30pm.
The Hawks got back to winning ways last week against London Irish Wild Geese. It was not the best performance of the season, but they did the job and returned with a bonus point victory.
There will be plenty to work on in training this week, particularly the line out, which failed to function with any consistency last week and a number of attacking opportunities were lost because of it. The coaching team will also be looking for more accuracy in the Hawks general play.
Having said that, the forwards again were outstanding, particularly in the loose play and set the foundations for the win. The defence also had a good work out but the most pleasing aspect of the Hawks game was the backs showing good signs, especially in the second half, of becoming more threatening, with George Wood particularly impressing on the wing. Starting scrum half. Ross MacDougall crossed for two tries and the scrum again was dominant led by regular starters Brad Cook, Tom Emery and Dave Manning in the front row.
Henley head coach, Luke Allen has made two changes to his starting line-up for this fixture — one each in the forwards and backs.
In the forwards, Liam Goodison will start in the second row at lock in place of Adam Neal while in the backs, George Griffiths will take the place of Jack Robinson on the left wing. Elsewhere Dan Barnes and Xavier Andre will both switch positions for this match with Barnes starting at inside centre and Andre at outside centre.
Guernsey Raiders were promoted into National League 2 (South) last season. They finished runners up to Barnes in London and SE Premier and then beat Bournemouth 38-23 in the promotion play off match.
This season so far, they have struggled for consistency and currently lie 14th in the league table. They have won two of their thirteen matches, against Barnes (26-21) and Clifton (28-3) but have also had close games against Redruth and Canterbury. Guernsey have also had more than their fair share of injuries this season, added to last week, when full back Alex Gow was stretchered off at Dings Crusaders with a broken leg.
With travelling this distance often a factor, Guernsey are known for playing better on their own ground and it certainly won’t be an easy game for the Hawks.
The full Hawks line-up for the match is as follows:
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Jake Albon, 5 Liam Goodison, 6 Sam Lunnon (c), 7 Tom Hall, 8 Alex Bradley, 9 Ross MacDougal, 10 Roddy Giles, 11 George Griffiths, 12 Dan Barnes, 13 Xavier Andre, 14 George Wood, 15 Sam Randal. Replacements: George Primett, Zac Clarke, Scott White, Finn Pietersen, Leo Webb, Ryan O’Neill.
There are no other games for any of the clubs sides again on Saturday.
However, there are two interesting matches being played on Sunday. The Henley Hawks Women are at home to Hove RFC in their latest league game, kick off 2pm.
Also playing are Henley Hawks U20 who are playing the Berkshire U20 side in a friendly. The game is being played at Maidenhead RFC, kick off 2pm.