Match report by David Hinchliffe. Images Andy Wales.
For Round 13 of the league programme, The Raiders made the long trip to Suffolk to The Haberden, home of Bury St Edmunds RFC. Thus far their hosts had a 100% winning record at home and were level on points with the visitors but with a game in hand, so a tough examination was on the cards.
With Scott Barlow still not fully recovered, Kiba Richards and Tom Gwyther unavailable and John Dawe away on international duty, the coaches were again obliged to shuffle the pack. Jack Lee joined Jack Lake in the second row and Liam Perkins started at No. 8. Jon Whittall moved across to 7 and Will Fowler completed the back row at 6. In the back-line Kieran Leeming replaced the injured Gwyther at inside centre, while Ryan Maguire and Will Beer joined the bench.
A bright, clear day was most welcome after a very wet month and with the pitch in good condition a good game of rugby was in prospect. The hosts kicked off and a clearance to touch gave them a lineout in the visitors’ half. Their catch and drive netted the almost obligatory penalty to move them into an early three-point lead, but they fumbled the restart and Curtis Barnes was quick to collect the loose ball and make good ground before offloading to Elliott Luke who crashed over in the corner. Mclean missed the difficult conversion but with three minutes gone the score was 3-5 in favour of The Raiders.
The start had been full of action, but it was almost 25 minutes before the next score, during which time neither side could turn opportunity into reward, with a number of chances for both going begging. It was the home side who finally drove over the line courtesy of their No. 8 Wilson, the conversion taking them into a 10-5 lead. The Raiders continued to misfire, a couple of not straight lineouts adding to their woes, but Luke had taken a knock to the arm when scoring his try and this was clearly troubling him.
Trailing 10-5 at the break would not have been unjust given the first half performance but a further converted try, conceded on the stroke of half time, opened a twelve-point gap. The half time talk centred around cutting the error rate and not forcing play. After eight minutes Harry Forrest was the first to take the advice, cutting a good line from a backs’ move and scoring close to the posts to give McLean a simple conversion and reduce the gap to 17-12. One minute later Bury were celebrating their third try as their full back broke through to score by the posts and restore their advantage at 24-12. Their celebrations were short lived, as only two minutes later Liam Perkins returned the favour with his first try, converted by McLean to close the gap once more to 24-19.
With three tries each and a gap of only five points, the game was nicely poised, and the crowd had to wait four minutes for the next score. Raiders took a 22m drop out which was fielded and immediately returned by the home side. One of the Bury back row found himself in an “advantageous” position and fielded his own side’s kick before offloading it to a passing player who scored. The referee consulted his Touch Judge and then, surprisingly, awarded the try which was converted to extend the lead to 31-19.
The Raiders were now chasing the game and, as often then happens, conceded a further try to fall 36-19 behind with only thirteen minutes remaining. The Sussex side were determined not to make the long journey home without a reward and a succession of penalties conceded by their opponents allowed them to pressure their try line. With a Bury player yellow carded for illegally stopping an attack, Liam Yates tapped and went to score the bonus point try which McLean converted to bring the score to 36-26. One bonus point was not enough, and The Raiders pressed for more. Again, penalties conceded by Bury brought them close to the line and with a last throw of the dice scrum half Sam Boyland darted from the base of a ruck to score the fifth Raiders try and secure the losing bonus point. Matt was unable to convert from wide out, but his kick was the last act of the game as the referee blew for no side.
Full Time Score: Bury St Edmunds 36 Worthing Raiders 31
So, two points on the road and a reasonable end to a very good month, with The Raiders taking four wins from five and twenty-one points from a possible twenty-five. Next up Leicester Lions at home, it won’t be easy, but a big vocal crowd could make the difference, be there for The Raid!
Referee: Daniel Rowlands
Tries: Luke, Forrest H, Perkins x 2, Boyland
Cons: McLean x 3
1. Henry Birch 2. Elliott Luke 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Jack Lee 5. Jack Lake 6. Will Fowler 7. Jon Whittall 8. Liam Perkins – Captain 9. Sam Boyland 10. Henry Anscombe 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Kieran Leeming 13. Jack Forrest 14. Harry Forrest 15. Matt McLean
16. Jordan Gibson 17. Grant Gatford 18. Sam Cook 19. Ryan Maguire 20. Will Beer