IT IS two years since Lydney played at Dry Leas having been relegated to National 3 (South West) for the
IT IS two years since Lydney played at Dry Leas having been relegated to National 3 (South West) for the first time which was a blow to the pride of the Forest of Dean.
The Hawks have had a poor end to the first half of the season after going 14 games undefeated. They lost their last two games of 2014 away to Waterloo, 30-7, and 28-21 at Chinnor. The loss to Chinnor, their local rivals, was the first time they had lost a league game to them.
This loss was particularly hard to bear following the defeat at Worthing the previous week and was uncharacteristic of a side which has played with a great spirit all season turning half-time deficits to victory on three occasions away from home.
But there is hope, the Hawks have not lost their spirit, as was evident in the last quarter of the game at Chinnor in which they scored two sparkling tries and were on the verge of another second half recovery.
It is therefore not surprising that head coach Pete Davies has selected a changed team to play Lydney to put the Hawks firmly back on track to achieve promotion to Division 1.
The team expected to start at Dry Leas this Saturday, kick-off 3pm, includes only six players who started against Chinnor. These are centres George Eastwell and Fred Pierrepoint and fly half James Comben. Piers O’Conor (fullback) and wings Lloyd Owen and Xavier Andre who were not available last week will feature in the much changed strong back line.
Replacement Connor Murphy, who starts at scrum-half in this game, made a significant contribution in the last quarter of the match which enabled the Hawks to earn a bonus point for a seven point defeat and retain league leadership over Dorking, albeit by one point.
The front five of the pack, second row skipper Dave Clements and Will Woodward, will be joined by loose head Dave Manning who has been in good form and George Edgson returning from involvement as a dual- registered player with Wasps.
The back row is much changed with Tom Hall switching from open-side flanker to blind-side. This reflects the loss of Ryan Newman who has returned to New Zealand after an outstanding contribution to Hawks rugby over the last five years. Coming in on the open-side is Tom Steindler who has led the Bulls side well for much of the season. This will be his debut for the Hawks.
The back row shuffle is completed by the inclusion of the versatile Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas at number eight in place of Robbie Stapley, who is unavailable.
The Hawks have had the benefit of dual-registered players with Wasps and London Irish. Lydney have had strong links with Gloucester over the years but the dual registration of players has not materialised as such this year although they are hoping this may happen shortly.
The Lydney club founded in 1887 is steeped in rugby history and can never be lightly treated. They had a good result last Saturday when they comfortably saw off bottom-of-the-league Dings Crusaders, 21-6.
Man-of-the-match flanker Harry Brown put in a hard tackling performance backed by kicker Tony Wicks (fly-half) with eight points from two penalties and a conversion. In wings Josh Hannam and skipper Chris Holder, they have good finishers.
The Hawks won the game at Lydney in September 43-17 when the Foresters had players missing attending the nuptials of one of their colleagues and this may well not be a guide to the result of tomorrow’s (Saturday) game at 3pm.
Henley Hawks Women return to action following a three-week break on January 11 with a trip to Hove Ladies.
The team’s last outing in 2014 saw them draw 17-17 with Richmond Ladies 2nds in the Championship Division 1.
Henley Hawks: 15 Piers O’Conor, 14 Xavier Andre, 13 Fred Pierrepoint, 12 George Eastwell, 11 Lloyd Owen, 10 James Comben, 9 Connor Murphy, 1 Dave Manning, 2 George Edgson, 3 Jimmy Titchfield, 4 Dave Clements, 5 Will Woodward, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Tom Steindler, 8 Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas.
16 Hugo Milford-Scott, 17 Tim Coghlan, 18 Jake O’Leary, 19 Jake Randall, 20 Tom Allen.