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Fylde travel to Henley Hawks: match preview

Fylde make only their 3rd ever trip to Henley Hawks' Dry Leas ground on Saturday (ko 15.00) and will be looking to build on their ultimately convincing win against Cinderford last Saturday and to notch up their 2nd away win of the season. They face a Hawks squad who are struggling to establish themselves in National One following on from promotion last season. They sit in 13th place, just eight points behind 10th placed Fylde. They have suffered four consecutive heavy defeats, scoring 13 points and conceding 168, at home to Hartpury College (0-46) & Plymouth Albion (3-36), away at Richmond (5-54) & last Saturday at Hull Ionians (5-32).
 
They have lost numerous players through injury and unavailability in recent weeks but some are now returning so they will expect to improve their position. They will be very anxious to pull out all the stops on Saturday against the Lancastrians. Henley’s well appointed Dry Leas ground boasts one of the finest playing surfaces in the country, recognised as such by the many representative matches that are played there.
 
Fylde & Henley have only met four times in league action in their histories, and in this division. In 2002/3, at the end of which they were were promoted to level 2 and Fylde relegated to level 4, Henley edged home by 21-20 at the Woodlands in November 2002 thanks to a last minute penalty but were more convincing victors in the return at Dry Leas by 42-9 in March 2003. Back together in National One in 2013/14, Fylde exacted revenge when they won 32-21 at Dry Leas and 44-22 at the Woodlands.
 
Henley Rugby Club was founded in 1930 as Old Henleiensians, became Henley RFC in 1963 and came to more national prominence on the establishment of league rugby and professionalism in the late 1980s & 1990s. According to Wikipedia, “Henley's fortunes stood still until Clive Woodward, England's future World Cup winning coach, became the 1st XV coach in 1990. His introduction of the 'flat ball' philosophy was a pioneering event for British rugby and brought promotion in 1992. Henley gained a further promotion in 1994 to the National Leagues.” Along the way they picked up the 'Hawks' suffix.
 
The Hawks bounced around between levels 2 & 3 between 2003 & 2008 assisted by major sponsorship from Vodaphone. This ended and they were relegated to National Two (South) in 2008, in parallel with Fylde's tenure in Two (North). They gradually improved their squad & coaching which culminated in a fine run as champions in 2012/13. They struggled to come to terms with National One in 2013/14 but were rather unlucky to be relegated at the end of that season. Not disheartened, back they came last season and had another excellent campaign to finish well clear at the top of N2(S).  
 
The Hawks Head Coach is Nigel Dudding and he has built a stable squad with the summer recruitment of a judicious number of newcomers to cope with the higher standards in N1. Dudding and his other coaches preach an open & attacking philosophy and this resulted in almost 1,000 points last season. They haven't found try scoring so easy after making the step up. They have notched 19 tries to date compared with Fylde's 39. 
 
The Hawks have a solid pack based on a front row including props David Manning, newcomer Henry Sandys (ex-Coventry) and England U'20s prospect Tom West (a DR from Wasps), and hooker Tom Emery. Back five forwards include locks Will Woodward, newcomers Charles Davey (ex-Cornish Pirates) & Jake Albon (ex-Loughborough Students), the highly experienced Dave Clemments (138 1st team appearances since joining from Wharfedale), flanker Tom Hall and no 8s Robbie Stapley and Sam Richardson (ex-Taunton).
 
The half-back partnership is normally scrum-half James Helliwell and goal kicking playmaking fly-half James Combden. Combden has played some 130 games for the Hawks and scored 1180 points. The rest of the backline includes a clutch of new recruits including centre Jack Bradford (ex-Loughborough S), centre/wing Liam O'Neill (formerly Nottingham), centre/wing Johnny Williams (DR with London Irish) and full-back Elliott Cox (ex-Nottingham). More established backs include wingers Simon Perry and Xavier Andre, and centres Fred Pierrepont (ex-Loughborough Students) and Tom Allen (formerly Rotherham).
 
Owing to a number of injuries, especially to backrow players, the Hawks have just signed the highly rated Royal Airforce flanker Rob Bell (ex-Leicester Tigers & Blaydon) and have recalled experienced duo of Matt Payne (recently retired) and 2nd team skipper Tommy Haynes. Click here for an excellent preview of the game on the Henley website.
 
15. James Davies, 14. Xavier Andre, 13. Fred Pierrepoint, 12. Jack Bradford, 11. Simon Perry, 10 James Comben, 9. James Helliwell, 1. Dave Manning, 2. Tom Emery, 3. Billy Moss, 4. Dave Clements (capt.), 5. Charlie Davey, 6. Tommy Haynes, 7. Rob Bell, 8. Matt Payne
 
Replacements: 16. Henry Sandys,17. Ed Church, 18. Sam Richardson, 19. Will Woodward, 20. Jake Randall
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Fylde make two changes in their starting line-up, both in the pack, with Joe Robinson at lock in place of injured Paul Arnold and Ben Vernon at flanker for the unavailable Evan Stewart. Included amongst the replacements is 19 years old, former KGS openside flanker, Jamie Brookes, who has been performing well in the Hawks. Jamie was set to make his 1st team debut last season at Cinderford but was injured in the warm-up. Better luck to him this time!
 
15 Warren Spragg; 14 Anthony Bingham, 13 Chris Briers (c), 12 Scott Rawlings, 11 Oli Brennand; 10 Chris Johnson, 9 Greg Nicholls; 1 Dan Birchall, 2 Tom Burtonwood, 3 Adam Lewis, 4 Gareth Rawlings, 5 Joe Robinson, 6 Dominic Moon, 7 Ben Vernon, 8 David Fairbrother.
 
16 Simon Griffiths, 17 Phill Mills, 18 Jamie Brookes, 19 Ryan De La Harpe, 20 Jordan Dorrington.
 
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Match officials
 
Referee: Daniel Parrott; AR1 Simon Dodd, AR2 Chris Fawke.

 

 

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