Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Scrum-half Murphy makes return for Esher encounter

FOLLOWING three weeks on duty with London Irish, Connor Murphy returns to the Hawks team to

FOLLOWING three weeks on duty with London Irish, Connor Murphy returns to the Hawks team to boost them as they attempt to end their losing sequence of six consecutive defeats when they entertain Esher at Dry Leas tomorrow (Saturday), kick-off 3pm.

A good second half away against Coventry last week plus the narrow defeat in their previous home game at Dry Leas with Fylde which earned them a valuable bonus point indicates they are beginning to turn the corner in their struggle to get away from the relegation zone.

There are few changes in the side selected for this week’s game. These are mainly in the pack. There is a shuffle in the front row where the experienced Billy Moss switches from tight head to loose head which means that the reliable Dave Manning comes in to start at number three.

In the second row Jake Albon, back last week on the bench, starts for the first time in six weeks. He did mark his return at Coventry with his third try of the season. The back row remains the same as last week where the combination of Tom Hall, Rob Bell and Matt Payne made an important contribution.

The backs, apart from the return of Murphy, who takes over from James Helliwell, have two other changes. Jake Randall has his second game after returning from a season with Hamilton Hawks in New South Wales, Australia, on the wing in place of Simon Perry who reverts to the bench and Tom Allen is a fullback in place of the unavailable James Davies

After a break of a season whilst the Hawks licked their wounds in Division 2, Esher return to Dry Leas in good heart after a thumping win at Molesey Road over bottom-of-the-league Cinderford 43-3 last weekend. The result left them in fourth place in National Division 1, seven points ahead of fifth placed Rosslynb Park and just three below third placed Blackheath.

Esher are in a much better position than they were last season when they looked to be candidates for relegation and needed wins over Blaydon and Wharfedale to avoid the drop to the third tier of English rugby. Last season Esher suffered from a combination of injuries to key players and poor form where they won just twice on their travels.

This season Esher have won eight games to date and lost four including their away game at Blaydon, 13-8, a fortnight ago. This was a surprise as this was only the home side’s third win of the season. Wing Spencer Sutherland is their leading try scorer this season with eight.

The Henley Hawks line-up for tomorrow’s clash is as follows: 15 Tom Allen, 14 Xavier Andre, 13 Jack Bradford, 12 Fred Pierrepoint, 11 Jake Randall, 10 James Comben, 9 Connor Murphy, 1 Billy Moss, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Dave Manning, 4 Dave Clements, 5 Jake Albon, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Rob Bell, 8 Matt Payne. Replacements: 16 Tom West, 17 Curtis Langdon, 18 Charlie Davey, 19 Simon Perry, 20 James Helliwell.

Henley Bulls and Henley Hawks Women are both without a match this weekend. Meanwhile Henley Vikings travel to Chinnor 3rds tomorrow while Henley Bears entertain Chinnor Oxen.

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