Henley Hawks v Worthing Raiders - Saturday, October 5th, kick-off 3pm
By Nick Pitson
This Saturday, league action returns to Dry Leas when Henley Hawks host old rivals Worthing Raiders in their latest National 2 (South) fixture. Kick off is 3pm.
After three emphatic victories in the first three games, the Hawks will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season at Taunton last week, but will know that Worthing are not an easy team to beat. They are an established National League side and games between the two clubs are usually high scoring affairs.
It seems that it took the first half for the Hawks to get the journey to Taunton out of their system last week, but that was enough to allow the home side to take control and ultimately win the game. Credit must go to the Hawks though, as they fought back to lead 17-15 before the Somerset side sealed their victory. The Hawks can consider themselves a little unlucky that they didn’t return with at least a bonus point.
The second half performance was much more like the Hawks exploits so far this season, but they will have to ensure they are playing for the full 80 minutes in every game in this tough league.
It was good to see Rory Mason and Will Bordill returning to the squad at Taunton, extending the quality of the squad further.
Mason and Bordill take their places on the replacements bench this week as Head Coach, Luke Allen makes three changes to the starting line up.
In the pack, Dave Hyde returns to the second row to partner skipper Jake Albon.
Reuben Norville starts for the first time on the wing following his try-scoring debut at Taunton, whilst centre, Samir Kharbouch makes his first start in the centre, partnering Alex Burrage.
Liam O’Neill, Jack Robinson, Alex Burrage, Samir Kharbouch, Reuben Norville, Ben Bolster, Ewan Fenley, Brad Cook, Tom Emery, Charlie Hughes, Dave Hyde, Jake Albon, Tom Hall, Sam Lunnon, Alex Bradley, Reps: George Primett, Scott White, Will Bordill, Rory Mason, Charlie Wicks
Worthing are no strangers to Dry Leas having visited every season except one (2015-16), in league matches since their promotion to National 2 (South) in 2007-08. They are always a strong, solid side, particularly at home. It was the Raiders who were the opponents for that famous game at Dry Leas in 2012-13 season when the Hawks won 55-27 in the championship decider to win the league in front of 3270 spectators, a league record. That year, Worthing won the playoff game and so were promoted with the Hawks. Both teams were relegated back into National 2 (South) the following season.
The Raiders have again made a solid start to this season, having won two of their four fixtures to date and lying in eighth place in the league table. They started the season with victories at home over Old Redcliffians (27-20) and away at Bournemouth (37-24). Since then, the men from Sussex have suffered two home defeats, last week against Redruth (19-30) and against the Hawks last opponents, Taunton,in a high scoring game (42-46).
Last season, the Hawks did the double over the Raiders. The Hawks won at Dry Leas 31-22 and then triumphed 42-19 at the Roundstone Lane Ground. Worthing finished ninth last season.
Henley have a number of other sides in action this weekend. The Henley 3rd (Vikings) XV have an Oxfordshire Derby as they are away to Witney 3rd XV, kick off 3pm.
Henley Vets (Vultures) XV are also in action on their tour to Jersey.
On Sunday, the Hawks Women travel to Sussex for a league game. They play against Hove RFC, kick off is 2pm.