Match report and photos by Colin Coulson
Match twenty five of the season and Raiders travelled the relatively short distance to Barnes. With only three points separating the two teams in the league and both in danger of slipping into the relegation zone, this was a very important game.
This week’s selection saw the return of Matt Walsh and Ryan Maguire to the squad but Kieran Sassone was unavailable having been injured the previous week.
The weather was dry but a very strong wind was blowing straight down the pitch. Raiders kicked off playing with the wind on their backs.
The game took a while to settle into any pattern due to the wind and handling errors but after eight minutes Raiders scored their first try of the afternoon, after a good passing move from the backs resulting in Curtis Barnes scoring and Matt McLean converting. An early lead 0-7.
Barnes scored their first try after twelve minutes from a catch and drive and so levelled the scores at 7-7.
Raiders looked sharp with the ball in hand and when Matt Walsh caught a high kick he set Kiba Richards driving forward. From the ruck Harry Barlow made inroads into the defence when he was stopped the ball went to George Hammond who fed Matt McLean who was forced into touch a metre short of the try line.
It wasn’t long before the visitors were on the scoresheet again. From a scrum on their own twenty two metre line Kiba Richards picked up from the base and made fifteen metres over the gain line, from the ruck Matt McLean made a break and passed to Curtis Barnes who outstripped the defence to score wide on the left, Matt converted to make the score 7-14.
Unfortunately just before halftime Barnes scored from a five metre scrum to level the score 14-14.
Half time score: Barnes 14 Worthing Raiders 14
Barnes restarted the game with the wind on their backs and after another scrappy ten minutes they scored again to take the lead 21-14.
Although playing into the wind Raiders were having a lot of possession in Barnes’ territory. The visitors created good attacking positions but couldn’t quite find the way through. Until after eighteen minutes from a scrum in centre field the ball moved to Curtis Barnes on the left wing who dived in at the corner to complete his hat trick. Matt McLean was unable to make the conversion into the teeth of the wind. (21-19)
Harry Barlow made an impressive forty metre break which resulted in a penalty to the visitors at the break down. The resulting lineout near the Barnes’ line failed to bring any points.
On the half hour mark Raiders ran the ball from a scrum in their own twenty two metre area, Harry Forrest drew the defence near the right touchline and fed the ball to Jack Maslen who sprinted fifty metres to score under the posts, with the conversion from Matt McLean the visitors now led 21-26.
With only ten minutes to go Raiders came close to scoring again but gave away a penalty five metres from the Barnes’ try line. After that the home side threw everything at the Raiders’ defence. For the final five minutes of the game the visitors were pinned on their own try line but the defence was exceptional and it looked like they would hold on to win but with the last play of the game Barnes got over the line under the posts and with the conversion clinched the victory 28-26.
Full time score: Barnes 28 Worthing Raiders 26
Two points earned on the road but massively disappointing not to held on for the win. The last five games are looking like a real relegation battle for Raiders. What a difference five points would have made at this stage of the season.
- Harry Forrest 14. Jack Maslen 13. Harry Barlow 12. Jack Forrest 11. Curtis Barnes 10. Matt McLean 9. Matt Walsh 1. Henry Birch 2. Jordan Gibson 3. Rhys Litterick 4. George Hammond 5. Jack Lake 6. Rob Cuffe 7. George Harris 8. Kiba Richards
- Elliott Luke 17. Grant Gatford 18. Ryan Maguire 19. Jon Whittall 20. Ben Holt