Clifton vs Henley Hawks – Saturday, March 2nd, kick-off 2.30pm
By Nick Pitson
Henley Hawks are on their travels again this week as they make a third visit of the season to Bristol, this time to take on Clifton RFC. Kick off at Clifton’s Station Road Ground in Cribbs Causeway is 2.30pm.
Last Sunday, the Hawks put in a great performance to see off rivals Taunton and have now got that real winning momentum back. However, Clifton will offer a different challenge and the Hawks will have to be at their best to meet it.
Taunton, despite lying one place above the Hawks before last weeks game, were not the force everyone was expecting, in fact they were quite disappointing for a team challenging for promotion. However, no one should take anything away from the Hawks who totally outplayed the men from Somerset with a performance that was full of pace, commitment and team unity.
Ben Bolster controlled the game at outside half and is proving to be a good link for Henley’s exciting back line, who now carry a real threat. The forwards were as committed as ever and set the platform for the victory.
The Hawks now lie in third place, just four points behind second placed Canterbury. With champions elect, The Rams now seemingly uncatchable, it will be a real dog fight between four clubs, Canterbury, The Hawks, Tonbridge and Taunton for the runners up spot and a promotion play off match. It’s proved to be a competitive National 2 South league this season, and each of the seven league games remaining will have the air of a cup final about them.
Clifton RFC have a proud history. They currently lie in sixth place in the league, although they are 29 points behind fifth placed Taunton and the promotion chasing pack. They have won nine of their 23 fixtures to date and last week secured a 28 -28 draw against Birmingham and Solihull. It was Clifton who won the corresponding fixture last season 29-20, but The Hawks won the game this season at Dry Leas in November, 47-12.
Head coach, Luke Allen has made just one change to the side that started against Taunton. The ever reliable, Tom Emery, who missed last weeks game because of work commitments returns at hooker in place of Brad Cook who is named as a replacement. Alex Bradley and Scott White also return to the bench.
The Henley Hawks line up.
15 Liam O Neill, 14 Jack Robinson, 13 Xav Andre, 12 Dan Barnes, 11 George Griffiths, 10 Ben Bolster, 9 Leo Webb 1 George Primett, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Dave Hyde, 5 Jake Albon 6 Sam Lunnon (Capt), 7 Tom Hall, 8 Marcus Lowe
Replacements: 16 Zach Clarke, 17 Brad Cook, 18 Alex Bradley, 19 Scott White, 20 Will Janes,
The Henley Bulls (2ndXV) have a home game on Saturday. They play Hertford 2nd XV, kick off 2.30pm.
Elsewhere, the Henley Vikings (3rdXV) also play at home against Witney 2nd XV, kick off at 2.15pm.
On Sunday the Henley Hawks Women have another important Plate Competition encounter against Loughborough Town Ladies. The game is being played at Dry Leas and kick off at 2.00pm.