Peter Gavin previews Westcliff v Worthing Raiders

Westcliff RFC v Worthing Raiders
8th February 2.30pm

Raiders are on the road again this Saturday heading to Essex to pay their first ever visit to Westcliff RFC. Last October Westcliff (aka ‘The Lions’) made their first visit to Roundstone Lane and returned to Essex after a hard fought victory 15-19.

Westcliff have recently moved to a new clubhouse in Cherry Orchard Way, Rochford, still in the vicinity of Southend Airport…see their website for directions (SatNav has not been updated with the new post code).

The Essex side qualified for promotion last season after finishing runners-up in London & South East Premier (L5) and going on to defeat Barnstaple in the play-off match last April (44-5).

History & Background stuff
The club was founded in 1922 as Old Westcliffians RFC, for ex-pupils of Westcliff High School for boys. The club name was changed to Westcliff RFC in the 1990s, although the club ‘went open’ in the 1960s. The club is approved as a Community Amateur Sports Club which effectively provides charitable status which benefits the club in respect of Rates and tax relief on certain donations.

The new clubhouse was officially opened on 20th December 2019. The pitches are rented from the Council.

Westcliff RFC was recently awarded Southend Borough Council ‘Club of the Year’, it is devoted to the local Community with rugby for all. The club is flourishing with 3 senior teams playing most weekends. Youth, mini (cubs) and girls rugby taking over on Sundays.

There are many similarities between our clubs, especially the number of players progressing through Youth rugby to Senior/1stXV level. The Ladies team ‘The Lionesses’ was formed in 2017 and play in NC2 South East-East. (Enjoying a good season W9 L2)

Club colours: Maroon & Yellow stripes blue shorts (Colour change Dark Blue)

League history
The club was promoted as Champions of Eastern Counties 2 (L10) in 2003-4 and was swiftly promoted to the London league 3 North East (L8). By 2014 the club had moved through to what is now London Premier (L5). Promotion to National 2S (L4) was achieved in 2019 by way of the play-off win against Barnstaple.

Last season… P26 W19 L7…2rd….98 points (4 points behind Champions Sutton & Epsom)
Westcliff had a successful season last year gaining 2nd place in London & South East Premier thereby qualifying to engage in a play-off fixture with 2nd in SW Premier, Barnstaple. The Essex side had a superior playing record 98pts/91pts and thereby claimed home advantage.

During the season Lions lost to Sutton & Epsom and Wimbledon both home and away, along with defeats at Tring, Chingford and Bedford Ath.

27th April 2019 Play-off Westcliff RFC 44 v Barnstaple RFC 5
Many impartial pundits fancied Barnstaple to pull off a rare away win in this type of play-off fixture, but this was a one-sided affair with Lions grabbing victory and were pretty much home and hosed with 4 tries scored by oranges (20-0). The home side had a brisk breeze to assist them in the 2nd half and with an early score from Bannister the match was sealed up.

TEAM: Bannister, Jones O, Reynolds B, Smith R, Merrick, Jones J, Spivey*, Hopkins, Binneman, Scogings, Dartnell, Marsh, Hatton, Maloney.
Bench: Lane, Weston, Brown S, Morrant H. (*now with Bishop’s Stortford)

Links with Worthing
As far as it can be ascertained the league encounter in October was the first fixture between the clubs, unless, perchance, Old Westcliffians called into ‘Castle Road’ way back when, on some touring adventure.

26th October 2019 Worthing Raiders 15 Westcliff 19
The weather forecast for this fixture was, regrettably, spot on….Steady rain/strong breeze at kick-off, turning to stair-rods/gale as the game progressed. Raiders had early use of the elements and were 10 points up just before the break. The visitors had defended well and their perseverance was rewarded with a try under the posts on the stroke of half time (10-7). As predicted weather conditions deteriorated, although to their credit the visitors made good use of the conditions, keeping the game tight and kicking well for position. Raiders managed another try, but the visitors added 4 penalty goals to achieve their first victory of the campaign.

Raiders: Birch, Luke, Litterick, Perkins, Lake, Fowler, Dawe, Richards, Anscombe, McLean, Barnes, Gwyther, Forrest J, Forrest H, Beer.
Bench: Gibson, Adams, Gatford, Holmes, Peach.
Scorers: T: Barnes, Gwyther. C: McLean, P: McLean.

Westcliff: Bannister, Kwassi, Reynold B, Smith R, Hogarth, Croft, Morrant H, Meakin, Morrant B, Dellas, Scogings, Dartnell, Marsh, Webber, Reynolds S.
Bench: Richmond, Whiting, Hussey, Webster, Johnson.
Scorers: T: Smith, :C: Bannister P: Bannister x4.

The season so far…. P21 W5 D1 ….13th …32 points……(Raiders 10th 50 points)
Since their victorious visit to ‘The Lane’ in October, ‘The Lions’ have 4 more wins and a draw to their credit along with the addition of 5 further bonus points. They are hovering above the relegation zone, but crucially with a little daylight, 11 points between the chasing Old Reds and Sutton, who both have a game in hand. (Bury St E (H) & Bournemouth (A) respectively).

Lions’ victories have been against Old Reds (28-36), Sutton & Epsom (21-8), Redruth (24-19) and Esher (22-17). The latter 2 wins were certainly surprises to result predictors, although it is perhaps pertinent that the Redruth win was a farewell to the old clubhouse, with the Esher victory an opening celebration to the new! The drawn match (20-20) was at Bournemouth a couple of weeks ago. (Lions scored 4 tries for a rare 3-2 win!) Last Saturday they faced a ‘full strength’ Titans down in Taunton losing (43-10), Titans blitzed the first half (33-5).

Coaching set-up
Last August, Jacob Ford was appointed new Head Coach, at 21 years old he is the youngest coach to qualify at RFU level 3. He is the brother of George Ford the present England fly-half and Joe Ford who until recently was at Yorkshire Carnegie. Peter Mahoney the DOR welcomed Jacob to the club after a year coaching at Lougborough. Jacob will head-up a team including Kent Bray, John Rudd, Jackson Wray and Joe Vandermolen.

The Players
A list of players used in last week’s fixture against Titans is provided, along with more detail on a few players who have played in recent fixtures. 13 of the players listed featured in the first leg in October. Experienced Back-row forward Sam Reynolds is the only player to feature in all 21 fixtures played so far. New additions to the squad since October include Myles Bean wing from South Leicester and centre Jake Campey from Eton Manor who has represented Combined Services. Scrum-half Jack Spivey, who moved to Bishop’s Stortford at the end of last season, has played a few games recently. On the sheet at Fly-half for the Bournemouth match was Joe Ford, but he was not available for the Taunton fixture. Greg Bannister leads the way on points scoring, with Tight-head Ewan Binneman leading try scorer with 6.

Once again another important fixture awaits the Raiders who as always will be grateful for your support from the touchline. Westcliff is a new venue for a visit with the brand new club an additional attraction….please try to get along to support the boys and to experience this new location…..Don’t forget to look at their website which provides a map to help to guide you to the venue and a welcome pint!!!

……..C’Mon Raiders

Name                                   * Played v Raiders   26th October 2019      Apps 2019/20 Joined Points Position / Previous Club/s & Appearances   *played v Raiders
Team v Taunton T 1/2/20 LOST 43-10
Greg Bannister* 19 2012 5T/19C/12P Full Back: Westcliff Youth, Bond Pirates (Aus)
Jack Hogarth* 13/3R 2019 1T Wing: Westcliff Youth
Jake Campey 7 2019 2T Centre: Eton Manor, Army, UK Armed Services U23
Seb ’Buster’ Reynolds* 12/3R 2014 1T Centre: Westcliff Youth, RAMS, LIWG 5
Myles Bean 5 2020 2T Wing: Broadstreet 9, South Leicester 45
Luke Cummins 2 2020 Fly Half: Redruth, NT Mosquitos (Australia)
Jake Spivey 4 2017 1T Scrum Half: Blackheath 2, Bishop’s Stortford 13
William Weston 11/3R 2016 Loose Head Prop:
Billy Morrant* 16/2R 2019 5T Hooker: Westcliff Youth
Ewan Binneman 17 2012 6T Tight Head Prop: Westcliff Youth
Joe VanDerMolen 18 2018 3T Lock: Southend* 53, Bedford 48, Old Albanian 1, Chinnor*24
James Scogings* 17/2R 2012 1T Lock: Westcliff Youth-
Chris Marsh* 13/6R 2012 4T Blind side Wing Forward: Westcliff Youth, Captain 2018
Sam Reynolds* 19/2R 2014 4T Open side Wing Forward: Westcliff Youth,  Barking 28, Tynedale 25, Richmond 2, Wimbledon 2
Jim Smith 7 2012 3T No 8: Westcliff Youth, Rams 4
Callum Lynch 12/4R 2016 Hooker: Old Elthamians 1, Loughborough Students 25
Kostas Dellas* 10/7R 2014 2T Prop: Westcliff Youth
Blaine Webber* 11/2R 2019 Open Side WF: Westcliff Youth
Chris Bolton 15/1R 2019 3T1C Scrum Half: Southend 7, Guernsey 4
Ed Johnson* (b) 1/8R 2019 Back Row: Westcliff Youth
Played Recently Last Played  
Ben Jones 5/2R 2012 1T/3P/5C    25th Jan Full Back: Westcliff Youth
Joe Ford 1 2020 1T                  25th Jan Fly Half: Yorkshire Carnegie 99, Wharfedale 7, Northampton 4, Sale Sharks 71, Leicester Tigers 36
Ian Dartnell* © 13 2010 11th Jan Lock: Westcliff Youth, Captain 2014
Dan Hughes 2/2R 2019 11th Jan Centre : –
Jack Jones 4 2012 1T/2P/8C      4th Jan Scrum Half: Southend*38
Norbertas Radzevicius 7   4th Jan Wing: Rochford 100, Southend, Lithuania 7’s
Henry Morrant* 5/9R 2019 4th Jan Scrum Half: Westcliff Youth
Elliot Croft* 13/1R 2018 1T                  21st Dec Fly Half: Westcliff Youth