Match report by Colin Coulson
Today’s game was a battle for survival in National 2 South, with both teams in the bottom three and desperate for points.
Conditions for the game could not have been better, the sun shone warmly throughout the day, the pitch was dry and there was very little wind to interfere with the flight of the ball. The home crowd of nearly five hundred was hoping to see Raiders produce their best rugby of the season and a victory.
Raiders kicked off attacking the southern end of the ground. Barnstaple had first use of the ball but Raiders held firm in mid field and after four minutes earned themselves the put in at the first scrum. Under pressure at the base Liam Perkins picked up and set off down the blind side, he passed to Kariym Irving on the left wing who kicked ahead towards the visitors’ line. Sam Hewick was first to the ball and secured possession before the ball was then sent out towards the right for Harry Forrest to cut through the defence at speed to score his first try of the afternoon. Matt McLean was unable to add the extras. (5-0)
Raiders continued to dominate and looked capable of scoring again as the interplay between backs and forwards constantly challenged the visitors’ defence. From a lineout on Barnstaple’s ten metre line the ball was moved quickly into midfield and Finlay Coxon-Smith burst straight through the defence to put Harry Forrest clear to score his second try of the game. Matt McLean converted to make the score 12-0.
In the twenty second minute Barnstaple hit back with their first score of the afternoon by full back Isaac Hydleman which was converted by Jordan Petherbridge. (12-7)
Raiders worked hard and regained control of the game when matt McLean kicked ahead towards the visitors’ try line and Finlay Coxon-Smith was first to the ball to touchdown for the try which McLean converted. (19-7)
The home side were playing with confidence and the bonus point try came in the thirty sixth minute when Kariym Irving beat two defenders to score wide on the left. The conversion was missed. (24-7)
Just before half time Barnstaple gave themselves a foothold in the match with a converted try to leave the score 24-14 at the break.
If Raiders were to win they had to negate the powerful Barnstaple pack and continue to dominate in the backs. On the other hand it was clear that if the visitors were going to get back in the game they would depend on the power of the forwards.
Up to the fiftieth minute all looked well for the home side. A penalty from McLean and a third try from Harry Forrest stretched the lead to 32-14. With twenty minutes to go Barnstaple took a tap penalty and before the home defence could get set the try was scored and converted reducing the lead to eleven points. (32-21)
The game could have been sealed for Raiders when excellent defence deep in their own half resulted in the ball being picked up by Harry Forrest who ran the length of the field to score. The referee however brought play back and awarded a penalty to the visitors which left players, coaches and the crowd bewildered.
As has happened in several games this season the last ten minutes saw the home team trying to hang on to the lead. The visitors’ pack was keeping the pressure on the home defence, which was standing up to the task admirably until what looked like a great turn over by Scott Barlow was seen differently by the referee, who awarded a penalty and yellow card. Yet again Raiders a man down at the end of the game. Barnstaple took advantage of the situation and after constant forward pressure on the home try line, scrum half Petherbridge picked up and dived over to score the try and secure two bonus points for the visitors.
Final Score: Worthing Raiders 32 Barnstaple 28
An excellent game of rugby for the neutral to watch. Disappointing that in a relegation battle the visitors gained two vital bonus points. On the positive side Raiders played some excellent rugby. Scott Barlow, Sam Hewick and Joe Watson-Brooks had great games in the forwards and the backs led by Matt McLean at 10 looked a real handful throughout the match.
B&W man of the Match: Harry Forres
Worthing Raiders Starting XV:
1. Ryan Storer
2. Joe Watson-Brooks
3. Grant Gatford (Sargent 30 mins)
4. Scott Barlow
5. Jack Lake
6. Dino Lamb
7. Sam Hewick (Whittall 60 mins)
8. Liam Perkins (Captain)
9. Kieran Leeming
10. Matt McLean
11. Kariym Irving
12. Ben Loosmore (Coxon-Smith 71 mins)
13. Kiba Richards
14. Finlay Coxon-Smith (Wilcockson 51 mins)
15. Harry Forrest
16. Will Grief
17. Dan Sargent
18. Jon Whittall
19. Alex Wilcockson
20. Sam Boyland