Dings Crusaders vs Henley Hawks - Saturday. January 26th, kick-off 3pm
By Nick Pitson
Bristol side, Dings Crusaders are the next challenge for Henley Hawks in their National 2 (South) campaign. The Hawks travel down the M4 on Saturday for a 3pm kick off at Dings’ new Shaftesbury Avenue Ground.
The Hawks will be pleased with the win against Redcliffians. After a scare at the start of the second half, it was comfortable in the end. The Hawks were particularly good in the first half, playing with pace and moving the ball wide at every opportunity. The forwards continued their great work in the loose and overall they scored six good tries, two of which were scored when they really needed them. Redcliffians found it hard to live with the Hawks in that first half and it is a game that Henley will have wanted to have secured as early as possible.
They will though, want to eradicate the lapses of concentration that happened in the second half and let a 28-3 lead slip, letting the visitors back into the game and indeed into the lead. With their defence usually rock solid, the Hawks will also want to sort out how defensive lapses allowed the Reds to breach the defensive line easily, particularly through the inside channels to set up their scores.
However, the fact the Hawks came back in the last fifteen minutes to win the game, shows the character and togetherness of the squad.
Another positive for the Hawks was the introduction of two quality players to the squad in scrum half Greg Goodfellow and full back Ben Bolster, who will be playing against his old side in this clash. In the weeks to come, their experience and quality will be crucial in the Hawks attempts to keep pace at the top end of the league.
The Hawks lie firmly in fourth spot in the league, but just one point behind Taunton (3rd) and two points behind Canterbury who are second.
Dings are very much a community based club and the Hawks can expect a hot reception on the pitch but great hospitality off it. It is always a difficult place to go and will not be easy but the quality of the Hawks squad is more than good enough to secure victory.
Dings currently lie in 11th position in the league having won eight of their 19 fixtures. At Dry Leas back in October, the Hawks won a tight game 20-15. Since then, Dings have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hide side, losing some games they should have won, but most of their games have been close. They have notched up victories against Old Albanian, Bury St Edmunds and an impressive win against second place Canterbury 23-20 just two weeks ago. However, they then lost last week to London Irish Wild Geese, one of the leagues weaker teams.
Selection this week, shows no changes to the starting fifteen that opened against Old Redcliffians. Leo Webb, who started last week keeps his place at scrum half with Greg Goodfellow providing cover on the bench. Full back Ben Bolster lines up against his former club.
The full Hawks line-up for trip to Dings Crusaders is as follows:
1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Sam Lunnon, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley, 9 Leo Webb, 10 Roddy Giles, 11 George Griffiths, 12 Dan Barnes, 13 Xav Andre, 14 George Wood, 15 Ben Bolster
Replacements: George Primett, Andrew Stubbs, Ross Parkins, Ryan O’Neill, Greg Goodfellow
As well as the Hawks being in action, the Bulls (2nd XV) are at home to Bournemouth 2nd XV, kick off at Dry Leas is 2.30pm.
The Vets (Vultures) are also in action this week, travelling to West London to take on Harlequins Vets, kick off 2pm (tbc).
On Sunday, the Henley Hawks Women have a crucial game away at Bath Women, kick off 2pm.