Hawks seek response against Wild Geese

Henley Hawks  vs  London Irish Wild Geese - Saturday, March 30th, kick-off 3pm

By Nick Pitson

After their crucial game at Canterbury last week, the Henley Hawks return home on Saturday as they host bottom side, the London Irish Wild Geese in the latest National 2 (South) fixture. Kick off at Dry Leas is 3pm.

The Hawks will be looking to get back to winning ways after their last minute defeat at the hands of Canterbury last Saturday. The Hawks will be frustrated that they couldn’t see the game out as they lead 21-7 at half time and 26-14 into the second half before the Kent side got their act together and showed what a strong side they are by scoring three tries in the last fifteen minutes.

It was a pulsating game in which the Hawks played their full part and they came extremely close to being the first team to win at Canterbury this season. Canterbury are a good side and must now be favourites to finish runners up behind the Rams.

While the Hawks have slipped to fourth position in the league, they have topped the 100 point mark, the same number of points as third placed Tonbridge, and they are still just seven behind second placed Canterbury side.

There is a lot of rugby still to be played before the season ends and the Hawks will be looking to get good support behind them for the remaining fixtures. There are no easy games in this league, but the Hawks have three of their last four games at home, two of them against the bottom two sides, starting with the Wild Geese this week so there is a great chance to keep the pressure on for the runners up spot. Canterbury have to play the Rams on the last day of the season.

London Irish Wild Geese have struggled this season, and currently lie at the foot of the league table having won just six of their twenty six matches. Last week they lost a high scoring encounter at home to the side just above them, Guernsey Raiders by 47-38. And back in December, the Hawks visited the Wild Geese in Sunbury and came away winners by 38-15 so Henley will be firm favourites for this game.

The Hawks should be very proud of their efforts so far during this campaign. The attitude and performances of the whole squad have been excellent, very refreshing and a far cry from the dismal performances at the end of last season.

After last weeks exploits, the team still has a familiarity about it and Head coach Luke Allen makes four changes for the Wild Geese clash, one of them positional. In the pack, George Primett comes in at prop in place of Dave Manning who takes his place on the replacements bench. Marcus Lowe returns at wing forward with Tom Hall also on the bench this week.

In the backs, Dan Barnes moves from centre to outside half to replace Ben Bolster and so Ryan O’Neill comes in at centre to partner Xav Andre.

The Henley Hawks line up.

Liam O’Neill, Jack Robinson, Ryan O’Neill, Xavier Andre, George Wood, Dan Barnes, Leo Webb, Ian Stock, Tom Emery, George Primett, Dave Hyde, Jake Albon, Marcus Lowe, Sam Lunnon (Capt), Alex Bradley

Reps.  Brad Cook, Dave Manning, Scott White, Tom Hall, George Griffiths

Sadly the Bulls game tomorrow has been cancelled and there is no game for the Vikings or Vultures this week. On Sunday, the Henley Hawks Women have an important National Plate match away at Sheffield. Kick off is 2.00pm.