This weekend, Henley Hawks will be keen to maintain their fine form when they host Old Albanian as they continue to hunt down a top two spot in National Two South.
The Hawks currently sit one point behind second-placed Canterbury having won nine of their last 10 matches.
But, they face a tough test on Saturday afternoon when Old Albanian visit Dry Leas and the away side may still harbour promotion ambitions of their own after relegation from National One last season.
As things stand, it’s Rams RFC who are in control of the title race in this division and they sit 10 points clear at the summit as they prepare to take on Birmingham and Solihull in Round 15.
The Rams will have an 11th straight victory in their sights while Canterbury will be gunning for an eighth consecutive win when they entertain Barnes.
Down at the bottom, London Irish Wild Geese are currently seven points from safety and they face Bury St Edmunds this weekend while rivals Guernsey take on promotion chasing Taunton Titans and Old Redcliffians visit Redruth.
Elsewhere in National Two South, an in-form Tonbridge Juddians go to Clifton and Dings Crusaders make the journey to Worthing Raiders.
Birmingham and Solihull v Rams RFC
Rams RFC Head Coach Seb Reynolds’ admitted last week’s display against Clifton provided a warning sign to his players. The league leaders did manage to secure their 10th successive victory, but they were made to work extremely hard for the result at Old Bath Road.
The Rams are now 10 points clear at the top of the division as we approach the halfway point in the season and Reynolds will be aiming for a more complete performance from his side when they travel to Birmingham and Solihull in Round 15. The Bees come into this clash on a high after a really impressive win against Barnes last Saturday and it means the Midlands club are now seven points from safety. Rivals Old Redcliffians also won in Round 14 which would have been slightly frustrating for Pete Glackin’s men, but Birmingham and & Solihull will continue to focus on themselves as they look to take another step in the right direction this weekend.
Canterbury v Barnes
It wasn’t clean-cut by any stretch of the imagination, but Canterbury maintained their excellent form by securing a seventh consecutive win away at Bury St Edmunds. Andy Pratt’s side remain in the top two and after their hard-fought victory in Suffolk last weekend, they will be aiming to stay in second spot when they host Barnes in Round 15.
The City Men have won all six of their home matches this term, which is not the news Barnes want to hear as they arrive at the Marine Travel Ground on the back off three straight losses. Defeats against Redruth, Clifton and Birmingham and Solihull has just put a dampener on their return to National Two South, especially after a run of five successive victories, so the London-based side will be hoping to return to winning ways in their penultimate fixture of 2018.
Henley Hawks v Old Albanian
Like their fellow promotion candidates Canterbury, third-placed Henley Hawks battled to an away victory over a spirted Guernsey side in Round 14 as they continue to fight for a top two spot. Since their defeat to the aforementioned City Men three weeks ago, Nigel Dudding’s side have won back to back games and in fact, the Hawks come into this clash with Old Albanian having secured nine victories from their last 10 matches.
— Henley Hawks Rugby (@HenleyHawks) December 10, 2018
While Henley are firmly in a race for a place in the top two, Old Albanian reignited their possible promotion hopes after a thumping win over London Irish Wild Geese. Gavin Hogg’s side began December with a defeat against Canterbury, but OAs produced an immediate response and they are now 11 points off second spot. There is still a lot of work for the Hertfordshire side to do, but a victory over Henley would certainly enhance their chances of moving into the promotion picture.
Taunton Titans v Guernsey
Taunton Titans have certainly silenced the critics in recent weeks. After three successive losses, Tony Yapp’s side looked as though they were falling away from yet another promotion race, but they have produced the perfect response in December. The Somerset club have clinched back to back wins against Old Redcliffians and Dings Crusaders to stay in the hunt and the Titans are only six points off Canterbury heading into this weekend.
Taunton host Guernsey in Round 15 and the visitors to the Commsplus Stadium will be hoping to build on last week’s performance. Jordan Reynolds’ men, who currently sit in the bottom three, put in an excellent shift against Henley Hawks to come away with a point, but they did fall to their eighth straight defeat. However, despite not picking up a victory since the start of October, the Raiders are only five points from safety so can Guernsey stop the rot in Taunton on Saturday?
Clifton v Tonbridge Juddians
Tonbridge Juddians showed their cutting edge in Round 14 as they produced an excellent display to see off Redruth at the Slade. It is now six games unbeaten for Peter Dankert’s side and the Kent-outfit are eight points behind second placed Canterbury as we approach the halfway mark in the season.
— Clifton Rugby (@cliftonrugby) December 8, 2018
It is proving to be another successful campaign for TJs thus far, but they will be wary of the challenge that awaits them this weekend when they take on Clifton. Following back to back wins, Clifton were full of confidence going into their fixture with table toppers Rams RFC last Saturday and Matt Salter’s side ran the league leaders very close as they came away from Berkshire with a losing bonus-point. Clifton’s performances have certainly started to click in recent weeks and they will be hoping that trend continues when they host an in-form Tonbridge Juddians in Round 15.
Redruth v Old Redcliffians
Redruth’s poor form continued in Round 14. Pale Nonu’s side were second best against Tonbridge Juddians as the Reds slipped to successive defeats in Kent. The men from the Rec have found it tough to recapture their early season form and they arrive at the halfway point in the campaign having won just one of their last seven matches.
The Cornwall-based side will be eager to improve on that record this Saturday, but Old Redcliffians come into this fixture with confidence behind them. Old Reds secured an excellent victory over Worthing Raiders last weekend to move five points clear of the bottom three and the men from Scotland Lane now have some daylight between themselves and the relegation places. With a huge fixture against rivals Birmingham and Solihull to come next weekend, the Old Reds will be aiming for another positive result on Saturday as they look to generate some momentum.
Worthing Raiders v Dings Crusaders
Following back to back wins, Dings Crusaders were beaten by the better side last weekend. Luke Arscott’s men fell to a 33-10 home defeat against Taunton Titans, but as we hit the halfway point in the season, the Bristol-based club must be pleased with their progress since gaining promotion.
— Dings Crusaders RFC (@DingsCrusaders) December 8, 2018
Dings currently occupy eighth spot in the table and they can end the first section of the season on the front foot when they travel to Worthing Raiders in Round 15. The Raiders find themselves in 10th place as things stand and it hasn’t been a very happy festive period for Jody Levett’s side so far. Worthing are without a win in four matches heading into this clash at Roundstone Lane and their list of injuries is not helping matters. However, three of their five victories this term have come at home so the Raiders will be keen to triumph on their own patch for the first time since the middle of October.
London Irish Wild Geese v Bury St Edmunds
Since new Head Coach Nick Wakley came into the club, the improvement from Bury St Edmunds has been evident. Seven points from their last three games is certainly a step in the right direction for the Wolfpack and their excellent display against promotion chasing Canterbury in Round 14 just highlights the positive steps which Bury are taking.
The Suffolk side do remain 11th in the table, but they will be keen to continue their encouraging displays when they visit London Irish Wild Geese this weekend. Wild Geese currently prop up the division following four defeats from their last five matches, including last Saturday’s humbling loss against Old Albanian. The men from Hazelwood are seven points from safety so it is far from disastrous, but a second home win of the season in Round 15 would certainly provide the Wild Geese with an early Christmas present.
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