Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Rejuvenated Hawks look to take game to table-toppers

HENLEY HAWKS head into their match against league leaders Bishop’s Stortford tomorrow (Saturday, kick-off 2pm) on the back of three straight wins.

Although the winning margins over Barnes and Clifton were just two points, they have accumulated 14 points in these games.

These have been achieved by a surge in team spirit which was difficult to detect in their run of defeats before the Christmas break.

Yet when they played Bishop’s Stortford away in November they surprised them despite going into the game with five consecutive defeats behind them.

With just six minutes to play the Hawks led 17-10 having scored three tries but only one of which was converted. Indeed had their place kicking been at all reliable they could have been 23-10 ahead.

The hosts won the game by storming over with two converted tries from attacking line-outs in the closing stages of the game.

Stortford come to Dry Leas on the crest of a wave, riding top of the league with a crunching nine-try win over London Irish Wild Geese last week who were reduced to 14 players when lock Andrew Evans was given a red card for stamping. To meet this challenge the Hawks make a positional change in the backs. Liam O’Neill, who scored a brace of tries against Clifton last week, starts at full back. His place at No 15 is taken by Sam Portland, who also ran in two tries in this game.

Harry Burn, who made a good impression when he came off the bench midway in the first-half, will make his first start for the Hawks on the left wing.

There are two changes amongst the forwards. It appears to be Tom Emery’s turn to start as hooker with Stuart Philpott, starting as a replacement. Both have struck up a good rapport with the forwards in the line-outs and Emery has contributed tries from driving mauls.

The Hawks’ starting line-up is as follows: 15 Sam Portland, 14 Harry Burn, 13 Xavier Andre, 12 Liam O’Neill, 11 Simon Perry, 10 Joe Butler, 9 George Jackson, 1 Dave Manning, 2 Tom Emery 3 Ziana Mountot-Alexis, 4 Dave Clements, 5 Jake Albon, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Rob Bell, 8 Marcus Lowe 16 Jim Hadfield, 17 Stuart Philpott, 18 David Hyde, 19 Scott White, 20 Tommy Haynes

On Sunday Henley Vikings host Newbury Stags, kick-off noon.

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