Hall and Payne make return as bottom two battle it out
HENLEY HAWKS, who slipped to the foot of the National Division 1 table last weekend, will be aiming
HENLEY HAWKS, who slipped to the foot of the National Division 1 table last weekend, will be aiming to end their seven-match losing run when they take on relegation rivals Cinderford at Dry Leas (kick-off 3pm).
The Hawks were left frustrated last Saturday after their match at Blaydon was postponed at lunchtime due to heavy snow in the North East.
Henley, who now have a game in hand on most of their opponents, went to the foot of the table as Wharfedale pulled off a 16-15 victory at Hull Ionians. Cinderford, tomorrow’s opponents, are one place and one point above the Hawks.
Hawks’ head coach Pete Davies hopes to have a stronger team available for tomorrow’s crunch match.
Rob Bell, who was not available last week, has recovered from a foot injury. The back row will also be strengthened by the return of Tom Hall at number six and Matt Payne at number eight.
The front five will be the same as that selected for the Blaydon game but the dual registered players are not available. Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas is nominated as a replacement after duty with the England Sevens side in Dubai.
The backs should also be a stronger combination although Connor Murphy is absent playing for London Irish. James Helliwell, who has played regularly at scrum-half on a rota with Murphy, will star. His partner at number 10 will be Ben Palmer who was due to make his debut at Blaydon. He has recently played for Broadstreet in Division 2 (North) but has only recently returned from Otago in New Zealand where he played top grade rugby. He is a reliable place kicker and he will be taking over these responsibilities from the injured James Comben.
The Hawks are also include Basil Strang, who was awarded a blue in the successful Oxford University side which won the Varsity match last season. He is also a reliable place kicker and plays at fullback/centre.
There is a strong resemblance to last season for Cinderford when their fate last time around was not decided until the last Saturday of the season.
Cinderford set off this season with a vow to avoid a repeat performance. Coach Nic Corrigan, a former Henley player, arrived from Chester in mid season last time around taking charge of a team that had won only once in 12 games. A winning start with a 27-17 triumph at home over Wharfedale was the beginning of a revival of two further victories. A further dip in form found them bottom of the league at Christmas and Although there was a run of six losses to follow they escaped relegation only by means of four bonus point victories and escaped the drop by one point.
This season they have won three games to date, the same as the Hawks, which led to Corrigan stepping down as coach last month. However, last week Cinderford gave high flying Rosslyn Park a run for their money when the visitors scraped home 20-17 at Dockham Road last week.
The Henley Hawks line-up for tomorrow’s match is as follows: 15 Basil Strang, 14 Jake Randall, 13 Liam O’Neill, 12 Tom Allen, 11 Simon Perry, 10 Ben Palmer, 9 James Helliwell, 1 Dave Manning, 2 Tom Emery, 3 Billy Moss, 4 Dave Clements, 5 Jake Albon, 6 Tom Hall, 7 Rob Bell, 8 Matt Payne. Replacements: 16 Henry Sandys, 17 Charlie Davey, 18 Oscar Hirskyj-Douglas, 19 Jack Bradford, 20 Fred Pierrepoint.
Henley Bulls are in action tomorrow when they travel to Cinderford United for a 2.30pm kick-off. The line-up for the Bulls is as follows: 1 Harry Jackson, 2 Jonny Kilgannon, 3 Sam Beckett, 4 Tom Bartlett, 5 Charlie Nixon, 6 James Scott, 7 Connor Morrison, 8 Will Woodward, 9 Fred Taylor, 10 Roddy Giles, 11 Callum Cooke, 12 Toby Davies, 13 Andrew Bailey, 14 Joel Thomas, 15 Dan Hawkins, 16 Max Chandler, 17 Ross Gilbert, 18 Scott White, 19 Toby Howe, 20 Ross Lewis, 21 AN Other.
Elsewhere tomorrow Henley Vikings entertain Amersham and Chiltern 2nds. Henley Bears are without a fixture.
• Henley Hawks’ rearranged match at Blaydon will take place on February 27 next year.