Henley Hawks welcome old rivals Cinderford back to Dry Leas. Last season they met in Division 1 but unfortunately both could not avoid relegation to Division 2 (South). In the tussle to keep the higher status matches between them went with the home sides which has often been the case when they have met. The Hawks won at home 27-13 but went down 27-34 away.
This season Cinderford also used home advantage in October to win 30 -23 after the Hawks led 13-10 at half -time. Unfortunately they conceded three tries in the second half.
The Forest of Dean club have run into form since then and having won 11 games, five consecutively, three more than the Hawks, and secured 17 bonus points. They are now lying seventh in the league 20 points above Henley thanks to one more drawn game. The Hawk’s inability to collect bonus points in early games means they only have 10, which has also left them in arrears, although they do have a game in hand following the postponement of the home match against Barnes a fortnight ago.
Cinderford have always been a strong club in a traditional rugby area, the Forest of Dean, and are now coached by Paul Morris, a stalwart of the club for a good many years, plus the experience of former Gloucester regular, Adam Balding in the pack. They also have the most reliable kicker in the league in fly-half James Moffatt whose 188 points have been accumulated with an average success rate close to 90%. He has proved to be an excellent replacement, following Callum Sheedy, whose performances for Bristol in the knockout final of the Championship earned him the man of the match award whilst Moffatt has been very important in Cinderford’s recent resurgence of form.
The Hawks, having done well to win away at Bury St. Edmunds despite being down to 14 men for the greater part of the second half, make four changes in their starting line up against Cinderford. In the absence of Alan Awcroft they start in the centre with Connor Hayhow. Their other changes are therefore in the pack. James Hadfield was given a well deserved rest last week after starting in ten consecutive games, will be at loose head prop instead of Bradley Cook. Dave Hyde is not available to partner skipper Dave Clements at lock so Jake Albon comes in after a week away . Tom Hall who has been ever present, bar one game, will start on the bench swapping places with last week’s try scorer Connor Morrison.
The bench includes prop Ziana Montout-Alexis who returns after a spell at Ealing and also Sam Portland, wing, who played for the Hawks in 2008/9 having recently played for Amersham and Chiltern.
Henley Hawks v Cinderford
15. Joe Butler,14. Simon Perry, 13. Liam O’Neill, 12. Connor Hayhow, 11. Xavier Andre, 10. James Comben, 9. George Jackson, 1. James Hadfield, 2. Stuart Philpott, 3. Dave Manning, 4. Dave Clements (capt), 5. Jake Albon, 6. Connor Morrison, 7. Rob Bell, 8. Marcus Lowe.
16. Tom Emery, 17. Brad Cook, 18. Ziana Montout-Alexis, 19.Tom Hall, 20. Sam Portland