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RUGBY UNION: Payne back for Hawks crunch
7:00am Friday 28th February 2014 in Rugby
HENLEY Hawks are desperate for points as they return to action after a blank two weeks at Old Albanians tomorrow.
Hawks, with only one win in the last eight, find themselves with just one team below them in the National 1 table and deep in relegation trouble.
They are, however, boosted by the return of Matt Payne in the forwards.
He will take over the No 6 shirt, after recovering from a spleen injury, in a powerful back row, joining skipper Ryan Newman and Robbie Stapley.
James Comben, who missed Hawks’ last game at Doncaster, returns at fly-half, with Tom Allen at centre.
Hawks have eight more games, but only one of these is against a top-six team.
Chinnor make eight changes for their National 2 South match at Cambridge.
Centre Jack Hayes makes his first start after joining from Hartpury College, while another new face, Rudal Aiono, must make do with a place on the bench.
New director of rugby Matt Williams changes his entire back row, but says he is confident that Chinnor can pull away from the relegation zone.
“It’s going to take two or three games for the new boys to blend in and the older guys to understand how I want them to play,” Williams said.
“But Saturday was a very good start and I’m confident we can produce a good display this week.”
Ben Selby plays his last game for table-topping Oxford Harlequins before returning to Australia.
The forward makes his final start as Quins travel to Cheltenham looking to take another step towards the South West 1 East title.
“He’s been very consistent, and will be missed,” said head of rugby Steve Chadbone.
“We knew he wouldn’t be here for the whole season though, and we have a strong squad so there’s no worries on that front.”
Chadbone added: “We probably need to win another three matches (to win the league), but we are not looking at anything except for Cheltenham on Saturday.”
Witney are waiting on the fitness of captain Jez Hicks ahead of their home clash with Maidenhead.
Grove are at home to lowly Marlow.
Henley Hawks (v Old Albanian, away): Yarnton, Bart, Allen, Wells, Andre, Comben, Carter, McLeod, Brennan, Manning, McNally, Woodward, Payne, Newman (capt), Stapley. Reps: Hadfield, Maddocks, Jones, Long, O’Neill.
Chinnor (v Cambridge away): Hopwood, G Blewitt, Goode, Hayes, Fielding, Millett, Jones, Cano, Townsend, Pickett, Kruzychi, James-Nicholls, Jope, Hirskyj-Douglas, Gilbert (capt). Reps: Aiono, Winpenny, Vickers, Tibbatts, Hall.
Oxford Harlequins (v Cheltenham away): Hilton, Tickle, Lee, Fisilau, Robinson, Norris, Goggin, Marshall, Edney, Boulton, Neal, Purchase (capt), Battson, Selby, Tupou. Reps: Si Chadbone, Brown, Jones.
Witney (v Maidenhead, home): from Richens, A Copperwheat, Burke, Rowles, Bennett, C Campbell, Hicks (capt), Catherall, G Campbell, Thomas, Monks, Fisk, J Lamb, H Lamb, Landray, Clarke, Mortimer.