Tonbridge Juddians vs Henley Hawks - Saturday, January 12th, Kick-off 3pm
By Nick Pitson
After their titanic tussle against the Rams last week, Henley Hawks have to pick themselves up for another tough challenge in National 2 (South) as they travel east to Kent, to take on Tonbridge Juddians RFC. The match takes place at the Slade Ground in Tonbridge and kicks off at 2.30pm.
However, perhaps they don’t have to pick themselves up that much after matching the table topping Rams for much of the game, going into injury time at 12-12. A draw would have been a fair result but the Rams showed why they top the league and conjured a try in the third minute of injury time.
It was a great advert for the league, two good quality teams going head to head and watched by almost 1200 fans, by far the largest crowd of the season at Dry Leas. It shows how much rugby in the area is followed and the crowd was the largest in both National 2 leagues (North and South) and also larger than any game in National League 1.
The Rams fans admitted they were impressed with the Hawks and there were some excellent performances in the forwards, especially in the loose play with Dave Hyde and Alex Bradley again showing their class.
And so to Tonbridge and a side which is one of the few teams to have beaten the Hawks already this season, when they won 19-14 at Dry Leas back in September. Since then, they have performed well and have won 12 of their 17 fixtures to date.
Since losing to the Rams back in October, Tonbridge had embarked on an eight game unbeaten run of their own including impressive victories against Taunton and second placed Canterbury. However, they crashed to defeat last week at the hands of the then bottom club London Irish Wild Geese.
Tonbridge lie in fifth place in the table, two places and just eight points behind the Hawks so Henley will definitely need to be at their best to come away from Kent with a victory. With the Rams looking certain league winners, the runners up spot is now a battle between between the Hawks, Canterbury, Taunton and Tonbridge, with only nine points separating these four sides at the moment.
Hawks head coach, Luke Allen has managed to keep a settled side for the trip to Kent and has made just one change to the team that took on the Rams. Marcus Lowe returns to the back row in place of Scott White who moves to the bench.
The full Hawks line-up for trip to Tonbridge is as follows:
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Ross Parkin, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Sam Lunnon (c), 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley, 9 Leo Webb, 10 Roddy Giles, 11 Liam O’Neill, 12 Dan Barnes, 13 George Griffiths, 14 George Wood, 15 Sam Randall.
Replacements: , George Primett, Zak Clarke, Scott White, Tom Hall, Ryan O’Neill.
The Henley Bulls (2nd XV) are also a way on Saturday. They travel to West London to take on Richmond Normans, kick off 2.15pm.
There is rugby at Dry Leas on Saturday. Henley Vultures (The Vets XV) will play Guildford Vets in the Surrey Vets League, Division One. Both sides are unbeaten this season. The game kicks off at 2.00pm.
On Sunday, Henley Hawks Women play their latest league match at Dry Leas against Blackheath, kick off is 2pm.