Top two meet in derby day clash

The Rams v Henley Hawks - Saturday, September 15th. Kick-Off 2.30pm

By Nick Pitson

All roads lead to Sonning tomorrow as the Hawks make the short six mile trip to the Old Bath Road ground to take on The Rams in National 2 (South), kick off 2.30pm for this eagerly awaited local derby.

It’s a mouthwatering fixture for the local rugby enthusiast. Not only are local bragging rights at stake, but both teams have started the season with two bonus point victories and occupy the first two spots in the league table.

Coach Luke Allen has made 5 changes to the starting line up from the side that beat a spirited Barnes last week.

Finn Peterson makes his debut at full back replacing Sam Randle while Jack Robinson moves up from the bench onto the right wing. The rest of the back line has a settled look about it as the Hawks look for some continuity.

In the pack, Rory Mason returns at prop with Dave Manning reverting to the bench.

Adam Neale makes his first start along side Dave Hyde in the second row while Alex Bradley comes in at No8. Marcus Lowe moves to wing forward this week in the absence of the injured Tom Hall.

The Hawks will be pleased that the away leg of this fixture has appeared early in the season and will hope a large number of supporters will travel to Sonning to cheer them on. In the corresponding fixture last season, it was the last match of the campaign and the Hawks put in their worst performance of the season and lost 51-0.

Up until 2018, the Berkshire club was previously known as Redingensians and then Redingensians Rams before being renamed simply as Rams for the 2018-19 season onwards.

Since they were promoted into National 2(South) in 2015, they have built steadily, finished 3rd last season and look as though they will be one of the teams challenging for top honours this time around.

They have started the season in impressive style, scoring more than 40 points in both victories over London Irish Wild Geese (41-10) and away at Canterbury (44-15).

Amongst their line up should be a familiar face to Hawks supporters in No. 8. Robbie Stapley. He was a regular talisman in the Hawks first team for a number of seasons always leading from the front. The Hawks will need to make sure he doesn’t have the influence on the game that he used to have in Henley colours.

Henley Hawks

15 Finn Peterson, 14 Jack Robinson, 13 Connor Morrison, 12 Simon Perry, 11 SAM Portland, 10 Joe Butler, 9 Leo Webb

1 Ian Stock, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Rory Mason, 4 Adam Neale, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Sam Lennon (Capt), 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley

Reps: George Primett, Dave Manning, Scott White, Liam Goodison, Ross McDougall

Elsewhere, the other Henley sides are also playing away on Saturday.

Henley Bulls (2nd XV) will be looking to get the first victory of their Shield Division 2 campaign after narrowly losing to Bury St Edmunds. They travel to Dorset to take on Bournemouth 2nd XV, kick off 3pm.