Henley Hawks vs Bury St. Edmunds - Saturday, April 27th, kick-off 3pm
By Nick Pitson
And so the curtain comes down on the season for Henley Hawks on Saturday as they play their final National 2 (South) fixture of the campaign with Bury St Edmunds the visitors to Dry Leas. Kick off is 3pm.
It has been an excellent season for the Hawks who are now guaranteed at least a fourth position spot in the league and possibly could finish third if they better Tonbridge Juddian’s result.
Many of the players have had excellent seasons but the job that joint coaches Luke Allen and Tom Gardner have done, along with their coaching staff, all overseen by Nigel Dudding has been exceptional. This season, the Hawks have challenged at the top end of the table for most of the time and have shown a togetherness and positive spirit that was lacking during the last season. Everyone is pulling in the same direction and the supporters can look forward to the next campaign with optimism and excitement.
The top four sides have been by far the best teams in the league and are well clear of the rest of the field. The table is a fair reflection and the Hawks have only lost six matches this season, but those six defeats however, have been home and away to the three teams above them. The Rams have deservedly been crowned champions and Canterbury have now secured the play off spot leaving Tonbridge in third place and the Hawks in fourth on the same number of the points. While the Hawks play Bury St Edmunds, Tonbridge travel to play struggling Birmingham and Solihull.
Wherever the Hawks finish, they have laid down some excellent foundations to build on for next season to make a determined push for promotion.
The Hawks have had a weeks’ break since their resounding eight try thumping of a resurgent Old Albanians. The eight tries were scored by Dave Hyde(2), Xav Andre, Ryan O’Neill (2), Scott White, Liam O’Neill, Leo Webb and Nigel Dudding called it the best away performance of the season and should put them in good heart for Saturday’s match.
However, they won’t have it all their own way as the men from Suffolk are a well organised outfit who always make it hard for teams to get the better of them. Although they are in a very creditable sixth position in the league, having won 11 of their 29 fixtures, Bury are still some 47 points behind the Hawks.
The two teams met in Suffolk on the first day of the season back in September with Hawks coming out on top in a high scoring game by 45-37.
Henley head coaches Luke Allen and Tom Gardner have made four changes to the starting line up, three in the forwards for the Bury St Edmunds clash. The team still has a very familiar and settled look about it, something that has been consistent this season and a major factor in the Hawks success.
The changes in the pack see the return of skipper Sam Lunnon into the back row along with the ever consistent Tom Hall with Marcus Lowe and Scott White on the replacements bench. Prop George Primett comes into the front row to replace Dave Manning.
There is one change to the backs where George Wood returns to the wing in place of Jack Robinson.
The full Hawks line-up for the match is as follows:
15. L O’Neill , 14. G Wood, 13. R O Neill, 12. X Andre, 11. G Griffiths, 10. D Barnes, 9. L Webb, 1. B Cook, 2. T Emery, 3. G Primett, 4. D Hyde, 5. J. Albon capt, 6. S Lunnon (Cpt), 7. T Hall, 8. A Bradley.
Replacements. I Stock, E Deacon, S White, M Lowe, T Howe
A large crowd is expected for this last game of the season and supporters are encouraged to arrive earlier than usual.
The Henley Bulls (2nd XV) are also playing Bury St Edmunds at home, kicking off at 2.30pm.