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RUGBY UNION: Henley have nothing to fear from rivals
HENLEY Hawks assistant coach Pete Davies says his side can be a match for anyone in National 1.
Hawks have played just three games on their return to English rugby’s third tier, but Davies says there are already grounds for real optimism.
And he is backing last season’s National 2 South champions to overcome their injury crisis.
“We have got nothing to fear, absolutely nothing,” said Davies, who ran the side in the absence of head coach Nigel Dudding against Rosslyn Park on Saturday.
“We are not here to see what it is like and make up the numbers.
“We don’t fear anyone in the league and I will back our squad and our game plan to handle anyone in the league.”
Davies added: “We stuffed Tynedale in our opening match. They weren’t very good.
“We were poor against Esher by our standards.
“We had 20 minutes where we played well and for the other 60 minutes we we dreadful.
“We didn’t rate them highly either.
“Esher are a top-two team and Rosslyn Park are consistently a top-four or five team.”
Henley’s early season injury woes saw them line up without eight first-teamers on Saturday before prop Dave Manning suffered a double fracture to his fibula.
“We picked up most of these injuries before the season started,” said Davies.
“We have lost Dave now and next week we are down more as Josh McNally is going to the Falklands, literally for the weekend, with the RAF.
“Dave Clements, the other second row, has got his brother’s wedding, so our squad is going to be stretched and tested.
“But I have got absolutely no doubt that we will take a strong squad to Coventry and we will give it a crack.”
Davies felt Henley had been drawn into a “slug fest” against Rosslyn Park when they should have adapted their tactics to suit their strengths.
He said: “If we had played a bit smarter, particularly when they were down to 14 men, and put more width on the ball to stretch them, I think we could have got more change out of it.
“Instead, we continued with the eight on eight.
“But in terms of guts, determination and heart, I can’t ask any more from my players.
“They defended the turf like their lives depended on it.
“They are brave kids and they will always put their bodies on the line.
“You can’t buy that. These are guys who desperately want to do it for the club.”
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