Match report and photos by Colin Coulson
This week Raiders travelled to Oxfordshire to play old rivals Henley Hawks. With half the country under snow several National League games were postponed. Although very cold and the pitch a bit firm after overnight frost, the snow stayed away and conditions for the game were good.
Raiders were forced to make several changes to the squad that beat Old Redcliffians the previous week. With Matt Walsh, Kiba Richards, Jack Maslen and Joe Spurgeon all out injured the back line in particular had a very different look to it. Dan Peach started at scrum half, John Dawe moved to the centre, Sam Boyland and Ross Miller to the wings and Sam Hampson to full back. Jack Lee covered for Joe Spurgeon in the second row and Will Sanderson made his debut on the bench.
Jack Forrest kicked off for Raiders attacking the clubhouse end of the pitch. The visitors had a good first five minutes maintaining possession and putting the home side under pressure. Unfortunately it was the Hawks who got the first converted try after ten minutes. (7-0)
Although possession was pretty even the home side looked dangerous on the counter attack and scored a second try midway through the half. (12-0)
Raiders created a couple of good chances but couldn’t quite finish them off. Henley on the other hand soaked up the pressure and then hit back with two more tries, stretching their lead to 24-0 after thirty minutes.
With half time growing closer it was obvious that the visitors had to get on the score sheet if they were going to get back into the game. The home side had a scrum just outside their twenty two metre line and although they won the ball they were under pressure and going backwards. They tried to run out of defence but good tackling by the visitors turned the ball over and allowed Kemp Price to make ground near the touchline. From the ruck the ball moved through the hands to centre field where Dan Sargent took the ball at pace and sliced through the defence from thirty metres out to score under the posts. With Matt McLean’s conversion the score was now 24-7.
Before the half ended Raiders came close to getting another try but the Hawks held out to lead 24-7 at half time.
The Hawks kicked off to start the second half and Raiders were quickly on the attack. After multi phases it looked as though a score was coming but again the final breakthrough could not be made. With nearly fifteen minutes gone there had been no addition to the half time score.
Despite the good play and constant pressure from the visitors it was the home side who eventually got the first score of the half and stretched the lead to 31-7. From the restart a break by Jack Forrest followed by a kick ahead almost brought a try for Raiders.
In the final quarter of the game it was Raiders who became the dominant side. With the greater amount of possession they continued to press the very well organised Hawks’ defence.
After twenty five minutes the visitors were awarded a penalty which skipper Liam Perkins took quickly and before the defence could react he crossed the line for Raiders’ second try, Matt McLean added the extras to bring the score to 31-14.
With the Raiders’ scrum and lineout producing plenty of quality ball they continued to attack across the width of the pitch until John Dawe cut an excellent line at pace to split the defence and score under the posts. To save time in the search for a fourth try Matt McLean drop kicked the conversion. (31-21)
With Jamie Redmayne yellow carded Raiders’ had to play the remainder of the game with fourteen players. Hawks took advantage of the extra man to score twice more before the final whistle. The visitors were still highly motivated in seeking their fourth try. With time running out they were rewarded when John Dawe broke through the Hawks defensive line and fed the ball to Matt McLean who shrugged off the attempted tacklers and romped in to score the vital bonus point try. Matt converted his own try to end the game.
Full Time score: Henley Hawks 43 Worthing Raiders 28
A difficult game for Raiders with so many key players out injured but well done to the players who stepped in and did a fine job in securing the important bonus point on the road.
Congratulations to Matt McLean who is at present the top scorer in the league with 143 points. Congratulations also go to Jack Lake, who made his 50th appearance for Raiders on Saturday and celebrates his 22nd birthday on Sunday.
Support from our travelling fans was again much appreciated by the players and coaches.
Referee: Andrew MacNeaney
Tries: Dan Sargent, Liam Perkins, John Dawe, Matt McLean
Cons: Matt McLean x 4
- Sam Hampson 14. Ross Miller 13. John Dawe 12. Jack Forrest 11. Sam Boyland 10. Matt McLean 9. Dan Peach 1. George Head 2. Elliott Luke 3. Dan Sargent 4. Jack Lee 5. Jack Lake 6. Kemp Price 7. Jon Whittall 8. Liam Perkins – Captain
- Will Grief 17. Jide Ajayi 18. Rhys Litterick 19. Jamie Redmayne 20. Will Sanderson