Peter Gavin previews Raiders’ encounter with Henley Hawks

Week 14……….

Henley Hawks V Worthing Raiders 

9th December 2017 kick-off 3pm

This week Raiders travel up the road to Oxfordshire to take on Henley Hawks at their Dry Leas HQ. This will be the seventeenth League fixture between the clubs. ‘The Hawks’ are our longest standing National League opponents and the series is tantalizingly poised at 8-8!

Background stuff

The club was founded in 1930 as Old Henleiensians RFC, for the old boys of Henley Grammar School. In 1963 the name was changed to Henley RFC…..the ‘Hawks’ bit was added later!

At the beginning of the league system in 1987, the club were placed in South West 2, but the arrival of (Sir) Clive Woodward as coach in 1990 brought about an upward spiral. By 2000, with at least four promotions, the club were mid-table in level 2. This put them amongst the top 20 or so clubs in the country. Hawks moved between levels 2 and 3 for a few years before landing in level 4 in 2008, which coincided with Raiders’ promotion to that level. Hawks (and Raiders) were promoted to level 3 after season 2012-13, but both clubs only lasted one season at that level. Hawks bounced straight back to level 3, but were once again relegated.

Henley are based at Dry Leas in Henley-on-Thames overlooking the river where the famous Regatta takes place. Their excellent pitch, level playing surface and the floodlit facility is used extensively. An all-weather ‘TigerTurf’ pitch was installed in 2002. Their clubhouse has recently been subject to substantial renovation.

They are a community club running 3 or 4 senior sides, with junior and mini rugby taking over on Sundays. They have a Ladies team in National Championship South and are looking to expand to a 2nd team.

Raiders v Hawks…

The encounters have provided scintillating matches with more often than not, only a score deciding the outcome. Even on occasions when the score line suggests a slightly more one-sided affair, there has always been plenty for the spectators to savour.

A resume of the results and finishing positions in the league:

2008/9:    W 6 – H 10     H 3 – W 17    final placings H 9th W 12th

2009/10:  W 22 – H 15   H 10 – W 8                             H 9th W 6th

2010/11:  W 30 – H 8     H 34 – W 32                           H 6th W 8th

2011/12:  W 35 – H 21   H 9 – W 10                              H 5th W 3rd

2012/13:  W 49 – H 5    H 55 – W 27                            H 1st W 2nd

2013/14:  W 27 – H 32  H 21 – W 16                            H 14th W 15th (National 1)

2014/15:  W 30 – H 7    H 22 – W 28                           H 1st promoted W 6th

2016/17:  W 24 – H 47  H 30 – W 22                           H 9th W 12th

19th November 2016…..Henley Hawks 30 Worthing Raiders 22

Raiders travelled to Henley buoyed with a win against London Irish Wild Geese and with an eye to the table, Hawks, in the red zone, with 3 wins to Raiders 5. A pretty even contest, Raiders never led although they managed to get the score-line back to 10-10 until the brink of half time. Hawks led 30-17 going into the final 10 minutes but despite a try and mounting pressure on the Henley line, Raiders left pointless.

Hawks: Comben, Awcock, Gardner, O’Neill, Ives, Parton, Jackson, Hadfield, Emery, Abdale-Weir, Clements, Albon, Hall, White, Hyde.

Bench: Primett, Morrison, Lowe, Philpott, Stevenson-Wright.

Raiders: McLean, Squire, Coxon-Smith, Richards, Forrest, Leeming, Peach, Storer, Harris, Burns, Barlow, Arthur, Short, Hewick, Smith.

Bench: Gatford, Sargent, Redmayne, Whittall, Montgomery.

25th March 2017…. Worthing Raiders 24 Henley Hawks 47

Prior to this fixture Raiders occupied 12th position in the league on 44 points with Hawks sitting pretty comfortably in 10th with 56 points. A degree of optimism prevailed amongst the faithful as Raiders had produced good displays over recent weeks claiming 15 points from the previous 4 outings. A tight and tense encounter was predicted….after 23 minutes with the visitors playing fast and expansive rugby, and Raiders actually defending reasonably well, the scoreboard read 0-26… TBP achieved! Just before the break a Jon Whittall try converted by Matt McLean saw oranges at 7-26. A quick score after the break was needed, but this was achieved by the visitors! Now Raiders only feasible option was to strive for the 4 try bonus point, which was achieved with scores from Joe Watson-Brooks (2) and Finlay Coxon-Smith.

Raiders: Forrest H, Coxon-Smith, Richards, Loosmore, Irving, McLean, Leeming, Storer, Watson-Brooks, Adams, Lamb-Cona, Lake, Whittall, Hewick, Perkins.

Bench: Grief, Finney, Cleveland, Boyland, Dobson.

Hawks: Awcock, Perry, Hirskyi-Douglas, O’Neill, Portland, Butler, Burn, Hadfield, Emery, Zian-Montout, Clements, Albon, Hall, White, Hyde.

Bench: Haynes, Manning, Bell, Philpott, Stevenson-Wright.

Series appearances…from players used in fixtures this season:

Raiders: 13 Redmayne, McLean (106 points), 9 Cleveland, 8 Richards, 7 Leeming, 5 Perkins.

Henley:  12 Clements, Hadfield, 6 Andre, Haynes.

Hawks last season…9th…W13/D1/L16…75points

Middling, but maybe disappointing as possibly they would have set their sights at bouncing straight back to National 1. Clearly, that was not going to be achieved after 7 defeats in the first 10 fixtures, so keeping out of the bottom three was the next objective, comfortably achieved. The double over nearby rivals Redingensians (22-26 & 17-12) and a nail biting Christmas warm-up against Oxfordshire rivals, high-flying Chinnor, (29-29….equalising try to Chinnor in 78th minute!) were possibly the highlights. (The win at Roundstone Lane was obviously their best display of the season!)

Skipper Dave Clements (lock) featured in all the fixtures with hooker Tom Emery only missing one. Forwards, Jacob Albon, Tom Hall and David Hyde only missed a handful between them. Liam O’Neill topped the appearances in the three-quarters with 26. George Jackson was top points scorer with 199 (7T40C28P) with Liam O’Neill leading try scorer with 10, closely followed by David Hyde on 9.

Hawks this season…7th P13/W7/D1   38points (Raiders 9th 35points)

Up and down…., with undoubtedly the major ‘Up’ being the away win against the then league leaders and unbeaten Taunton Titans (31-42). The ‘Down’ without doubt being the defeat at Dry Leas to Cinderford (17-90). They will have been pleased with the win in the first match of the season against Redingensians (28-24) and also with the win last week against Clifton (30-20). The draw was in Bristol against Old Reds (25-25). George Jackson leads the way on points scoring with 91(25C13P). David Hyde leads the try scorers with 6.


As usual a list of players used in the last few matches, with a brief detail as to their credentials is provided. (It is noteworthy the considerable number of players on the list signified * ie played previously against Raiders.)

Joe Butler (fly-half) and skipper Jake Albon (lock) have started in all the fixtures with George Jackson (scrum-half), Tom Emery (hooker), David Hyde (back-row) and Marcus Lowe (No8) featuring every week. Liam O’Neill (full-back/wing), David Clements (lock) and Matt Tibbatts (back-row) have only been missing from the squad once.

 Newcomers to the squad

Jack Robinson (wing), Oxford Harlequins; Will Janes (centre), Henley Youth (Shiplake College); Matt Tibbatts (back-row) ex Coventry; Juan Wunder (hooker) Manly; Joe Morris (prop) England U20.


Once again this fixture has all the makings of another cracking match between two very entertaining sides with only 3 League points and 2 League positions separating them.

It is the last away fixture before Christmas so try and get along to Henley to enjoy the action, the hospitality and to support the boys…they really appreciate the encouragement from the touch-line!!!

C’Mon Raiders!!!!


Name, Age       *played v Raiders Apps 2017/8 Total Apps Join Points Honours Position: Previous Club/s & Apps                  

* played v Raiders

Jack Robinson 7 7 2017 2T Oxon Full Back/Wing: Old Patesians, Oxford Harlequins
Sam Portland* 6 28 2008-10 2017 3T   Wing: Chinnor 4, Amersham & Chilton
Xavier Andre* (32) 11 127 2011 1T   Wing: Oxford Harlequins, Otley76
Simon Perry* (30) 8 79 2011   Centre/Wing: Ilkley, Henley Bulls (c)
Liam O’Neill * (23) 12 101 2012 3T   Centre/Full Back: London Welsh, Nottingham14
Alan Awcock* (28) 8 33 2013 4T   Full Back/Centre: Newport 8, London Welsh 45
Will Janes (20) 6/1R 7 2017   Wing/Centre: Henley Youth, Shiplake College
Joe Butler* (24) 13 38 2016 1T   Fly Half: Amersham & Chiltern
George Jackson* (20) 12/1R 37 2016 25C/ 13P   Scrum Half: Dorking*8, London Scottish Academy
Bradley Cook (26) 10/2R 27 2016 5T/1P RAF LH Prop: Bury St Edmunds 18
Joseph Morris (19) 3/1R 4 2017 1T England U20 TH Prop: Worcester Warrior Academy, Luctonians, Chinnor, St Edmund Hall Oxford
George Primett* (24) 5/3R 13 2016 1T Oxon Prop: Oxford Harlequins, University of Plymouth
Juan Wunder 3/3R 6 2017   Hooker: Manly RFC Sydney,
Tom Emery* (26) 10/3R 72 2015 3T England Counties U20 Hooker: UWIC, Lydney* 19, Exmouth
David Clements* (32) 12 200 2008 2T   Lock:  Wharfedale 26, Loughborough Students
Jacob Albon*(C) (25) 13 53 2015 4T   Lock/No8: Loughborough S* 68
David Hyde* (25) 12/1R 40 2016 6T Oxon BS Wing Forward: Witney
Rob Bell* (28) 11 36 2015 2017 2T RAF OS Wing Forward: London Welsh18, Birmingham & Solihull 17, Coventry, Leicester Tigers, Shelford, Blaydon 88, Ampthill 12.
Tom Haynes* (32) 0/4R 123 2008   Wing Forward: Huddersfield
Matt Tibbatts (29) 4/7R 11 2017 2T RAF Wing Forward/No8: Coventry*84, Hinckley, Chinnor
Marcus Lowe* 11/2R 29 2016 2T   No8: Ealing Senior Academy