HENLEY HAWKS, who are now just thee wins away from clinching the National Division 2 South
HENLEY HAWKS, who are now just thee wins away from clinching the National Division 2 South title, travel to Redruth tomorrow (Saturday), a fixture they have often struggled to come away from with a victory.
The Hawks retained their unbeaten home record last Saturday but only by drawing with Bishop’s Stortford with a try by Simon Perry in the last minute. Henley were hard-pressed to score enough points in the absence of both of their regular accomplished kickers Connor Murphy and James Comben.
Following this finish to the game last week changes have been made to the pack to start the game tomorrow.
The front row is changed completely with Hugo Milford-Scott starting at loose head and Dave Manning switching to tight head.
Nick Gardner, the hooker for the winning Oxford University side in the last two Varsity matches against Cambridge, plays his first game for the Hawks in three years in place of George Edgeson who is a replacement as is prop Tom West.
Elsewhere Matt Payne reverts to the back row from lock which means Will Woodward will start in the second row. Gus Jones, who was not available for last week’s game will start at number seven and Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas will move over to number eight in place of Robbie Stapley who is on the bench.
There are also changes behind the scrum, mainly positional. Ed Jarnton switches from fly-half to fullback with the return of Comben. Jake Randall returns to his usual position on the left wing with the rest of the back line-up retained. Redruth’s formidable “Hell Fire Corner” does not have the reputation that it had for many years but is still a difficult place to win at.
The Cornish side’s record this season, where they are eighth in the table, has seen them win 12 and lose 12 of their 25 games with just one draw coming against local rivals Cornish All Blacks.
Redruth have lost just one match to date on their own ground, that to Hawks’ main promotion rivals, second-placed Dorking.
Redruth always field a strong pack of forwards so the outcome of the clash with the Hawks eight will have a big influence on the result.
The Reds defeated bottom of the league Dings Crusaders 29-20 away last week. The two sides matched each other with two tries each with Redruth scoring twice through their back row and Dings using their backs to score in a changed approach to the game.
Fullback Ash Hocking, supported by Murray Westren, kicked two penalties and both conversions. In conceding four converted penalties Redruth subdued a Dings side destined for relegation.
The Hawks, with five games to play and a lead of 15 points at the top of the league, will have to keep focused to secure automatic promotion and avoiding a sudden-death play-off clash.
The Henley Hawks team for the match, which kicks off at 3pm, is as follows: 15 Ed Yarnton, 14 Simon Perry, 13 Fred Pierrepoint, 12 George Eastwell, 11 Jake Kendall, 10 James Comben, 9 Tom Allen, 1 Hugo Milford-Scott, 2 Nick Gardner, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Dave Clements, 5 Will Woodward, 6 Matt Payne, 7 Gus Jones, 8 Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas. Replacements: 16 Tom West, 17 George Edgson, 18 Robbie Stapley, 19 Tom Hall, 20 Tom Gardner.
Elsewhere tomorrow Henley Bulls entertain Old Albanians 2nds while on Sunday Henley Hawks Women entertain Loughborough Ladies in the semi-final of the Intermediate Cup (kick-off 3pm).