Thursday, 27 February 2020

Hawks give three signings their debut in first fixture

THREE players will make their league debut for the Henley Hawks as they open their National League 2 South campaign against Sutton and Epsom tomorrow (Saturday).

Ewan Fenley, from Gloucester Academy, starts as scrum half alongside Alex Burrage, from Bath University, in the centre and former Old Albanian Charlie Hughes is in the front row.

Sutton and Epsom visit Dry Leas as league newcomers, having won the London and South East Premier Division by four points last season. Kick-off is at 3pm.

The Hawks will be looking to improve on last year’s fourth position in the division and the squad have been preparing for a couple of months now.

Pre-season games against London Irish Wild Geese and Rosslyn Park, along with an internal training game have given the whole squad an opportunity to push themselves for selection and show the coaches what they are made of.

The players have certainly show the commitment and attitude so far that they will need for the rest of the season.

Most of last year’s squad have returned, along with a number of promising new players who should add to the quality of the side.

The National League Division 2 South is a demanding competition with teams and players better prepared as each season goes by and so no game will be easy.

That said, and with a number of new recruits in the ranks, Hawks head coach Luke Allen will want his side to start the season positively and put a marker down to the other teams in the league.

Allen has picked a strong side for the opener. The pack includes a number of new and familiar faces with Hughes starting for the first time in the front row alongside Tom Emery and Brad Cook.

Fenley makes his first start partnering Ben Bolster at half back whilst Burrage starts in the centre alongside Xav Andre. Second row Jake Albon captains the side with last year’s joint captain Sam Lunnon on a strong-looking replacements bench.

Sutton and Epsom are one of four new teams in the league, along with Bournemouth, Westcliff and Leicester Lions. The club was founded in 1881 and has a proud history, being one of the leading amateur clubs in the country for many years.

The Londoners are coached by former Canadian international Mike Schmid, who has vast experience of coaching around the leagues having previously coached Rotherham and Esher. Any side coached by him will be no pushover and the Hawks will know they are in for a stern test. They have had a busy pre season with games against Guildford, Rosslyn Park and Havant.

Henley Hawks: 15 Liam O’Neill,14 Jack Robinson, 13 Xav Andre, 12 Alex Burrage, 11 George Wood, 10 Ben Bolster, 9 Ewan Fenley, 1 Brad Cook, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Charlie Hughes, 4 Jake Albon, 5 Dave Hyde, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Marcus Lowe, 8 Alex Bradley. Replacements: George Primett, Elliot Deacon, Scott White, Sam Lunnon, George Griffiths.

Meanwhile, the Henley Bulls, the Hawks’ second XV, also play Sutton and Epsom at home, kick-off 3pm.

Coach Tommy Allen has a strong side which includes a number of new players who have featured in the Hawks warm up games.

Henley Bulls: George Probyn, Andrew Stobbs, Henry Penrose, Hugh Evans, Angus Hinton, Harry Jackson, Charlie Duminy, Liam Goodison, Euan McPhun, Charlie Wicks, Ryan Scott-Young, Samir Kharbouch, Murray Bellis, Loike Bazzi,Guy Rawsthorn. Replacements: Rory Mason, Taine Wagstaff, Zac Clarke, Harry Ryan, Connor Segre.

The Henley Vikings, the Hawks’ third XV, start their season with a pre-season friendly away at Slough second XV. Kick-off at Tamblyn Field is 3pm.

On Sunday, the Henley Hawks Women start their league campaign with a home game against Supermarine. Kick-off at Dry Leas is 2pm.

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