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RUGBY UNION: Chinnor out to hold their own
Season preview - National 2 South
CHINNOR will be hoping to make it third time lucky when they celebrate their 50th anniversary season in English rugby’s fourth tier.
The Kingsey Road club have reached this level twice before, in 2006-07 and 2008-09, but have been relegated each time.
Now with arguably their strongest ever squad, including ten new or returning players, Chinnor are better equipped to stay up in 2012-13.
And with Rugby Lions recently kicked out of the league due to financial problems, they simply need to keep out of the bottom two to do so.
Head coach Jason Bowers said: “The whole squad has worked really hard in pre-season.
“With so few players leaving and many good players adding to an already competitive squad, both competition and selection will be challenging.
“Our plan is to continue to play an open and attractive style of rugby, linked to a strong and powerful pack.” Chinnor, who open up tomorrow with a trip to Launceston, have added power to their back row with British Army forward Joe Kava.
Lock Dave Hughes joins from London Wasps Academy, as do Neil Davies, Paul Davies and Matt Mountford from the now defunct Rugby Lions, while Andy Berry and Jordan Wood return from university.
Dusty Miller has joined as a coach from the Royal Navy.
IN: A Berry (returning from university, prop), M Holyland (Oxford Brookes, hooker), D Hughes (London Wasps Academy, lock), J Wood (returning from university, back row), E Sawyer (Oxford Brookes, back row), J Kava (British Army, back row), N Davies (Rugby Lions, scrum half), P Davies (Rugby Lions, wing), L Fielding (Oxford Brookes, centre), M Mountford (Rugby Lions, full back).
OUT: H Jackman (Aylesbury, utility forward), R Williams (Antwerp, utility back).
LAST SEASON: 2nd National 3 South West (promoted via play-off).
HENLEY Hawks , who open up at home to Shelford, are targeting greater consistency as they seek to win promotion to National 1.
Hawks, who have Nigel Dudding returning as head coach, finished fifth in 2011-12, despite beating Old Albanians and Richmond, who went up.
They have signed 11 players, including Oxford Harlequins pair Martin Nutt and Sam Steventon, and lost just two.
Hawks have listed their players to watch as ex-Redingensians back-row forward Robbie Stapley and young Wasps wing Liam O’Neill.
Stapley was arguably the player of the season in National 3 South West, topping the pile with 27 tries, while O’Neill has “devastating speed”.
IN: M Nutt (Oxford Harlequins, full back), L O’Neill (Wasps and England Academy, wing), R Briggs (Worthing, wing), E Yarnton (Blaydon, fly half), D Maddocks (Jersey, prop), S Steventon (Oxford Harlequins, prop), M Clarke (Redingensians, hooker), A Cannock (Newbury, lock), R Stapley (Redingensians, back row), L Dwyer (Launceston, back row), J Thompson (Loughborough Students , back row).
OUT: J Holmes (London Welsh, scrum half), W Bigley (Rosslyn Park, prop).
LAST SEASON: 5th.
PREDICTION: Promotion challenge.
Chinnor (v Launceston, away): from Stock, Winpenny (capt), Whelan, Berry, Tattersall, Pickett, Smith, Mowbray, Blewitt, Williams, Gilbert, Sawyer, Kava, Jones, Wood, Cathcart, Stoop, Goode, Seymour, Chase, Corpe, Gray, Colver, P Davies, Fielding.
Henley Hawks (v Shelford, home): Allen (capt), O’Neill, Wells, James, Andre, Comben, Shaylor, Maddocks, Brennan, Hadfield, Downing, Cannock, Woodward, Newman, Stapley. Reps: Milford-Scott, Clarke, Payne, Dwyer, Briggs.