Match report by Martin Maslen.
The first game of the New Year away to Redruth was always going to be a big ask for the selected Raiders squad. History was against them, we had never won at Redruth. There had been close games, last year losing in the final minute of the game, but no wins. Redruth’s visit to Worthing earlier this season ended in a resounding win for the Raiders, 68-21, so they travelled with a degree of confidence in their ability to overcome the long journey, history and Hell Fire corner! Ryan Maguire was making his debut and Henry Birch returning from injury was on the bench.
Redruth welcomed the traveling supporters with their customary Cornish hospitality before and after the game and their understandable passion during the game. This along with a pasty and a pint or two in the clubhouse helped to keep the chill out of the bones.
Raiders played the first half up the hill with Hell Fire corner behind them. From the off Redruth tactics were not to commit to rucks and mauls when defending and to shift the ball and attack via their backs when the opportunity arose, they were playing like Raiders! This soon resulted in a try to Redruth after four minutes via their no 15, the conversion was missed. 5-0. From the restart Raiders retained the ball and soon fed Curtis Barnes on the right wing who set off from the half way line and stepped and weaved through the Redruth defence to score under the posts. Matt McLean converted, 5-7 after nine minutes of play.
The next ten to fifteen minutes saw both teams attacking strongly with good defence in evidence, Redruth had a sustained period mauling close to our try line but were held up over the line by Raiders. The resulting scrum saw Matt Walsh scamper round and catch the Redruth no 8 napping. The Redruth no 9 was injured in the ensuing ruck and had to leave the field with an ankle injury.
Raiders now worked their way into the Redruth 22 via a Kiba Richards break and a quick tap and go by Jack Forrest. A promising attack came to nought but Raiders were eventually awarded a penalty which was converted by Matt McLean, 5-10 after twenty eight minutes.
The restart was gathered by Raiders who set off again but were stopped inside our half and a penalty awarded to Redruth. The conversion was missed. With three minutes left of the half Raiders were awarded a penalty just outside our 22 and Matt Walsh took a quick tap and go, which he was doing all game, but was illegally held by the Redruth no. 3 who was yellow carded. Raiders kicked to touch from the penalty and won their lineout. The ball was moved across the field quickly and accurately allowing Curtis Barnes to dive in to the right hand corner for his second try of the day. Matt McLean was unable to convert and the half ended, 5-15 to Raiders.
Raiders kicked off the second half playing towards Hell Fire corner. Sustained pressure from Raiders resulted in the ball ending up in Curtis Barnes hands again which led to his third, and arguably most impressive, try of the game. Hard running and opposition player avoidance! Matt McLean stepped up to convert the extra points. The score now stood at 5-22 after forty five minutes of play and the travelling supporters were sensing an historic win could be on the cards but were still nervous remembering the fixture last season.
The restart was gathered by the Raiders forwards and they proceeded to move up the field. Redruth were penalised for offside and interfering with play. Penalty to Raiders and a talking to Redruth from the ref. Matt McLean converted to take the score to 5 – 25 on forty eight minutes.
Redruth now reverted to their more traditional game of forwards play, rucking and mauling down the field towards the Raiders’ try line. The resulting infringement by Raiders saw Redruth kick to the corner for a lineout 5 metres from the try line. Raiders opted not to compete at the lineout and used the ‘standoff’ tactic, very well defended but another penalty, kicked to the corner again. Raiders again used the ‘standoff’ tactic this time resulting in a turn over and scrum to Raiders. Excellent defence. Raiders won their scrum and kicked out of their 22, straight down the throat of the Redruth full back who ran it back. Raiders stopped the initial attack but Redruth worked it back and their no. 15 dived over for his second try under the posts, the conversion was good, 12-25 after fifty five minutes.
Redruth played the next fifteen minutes at an increased tempo and had Raiders on the back foot. Eventually the pressure told and after a 3rd penalty against Raiders Jordan Gibson was yellow carded on sixty one minutes. Raiders were now down to 14 men against a resurgent Redruth. The next scrum saw a change for Raiders with Henry Birch coming on to ensure we had a front row after the sin bin and Harry Barlow had to come off.
Redruth had a number of scrums in our 22. The Raiders scrum began to wobble for the first time in the game and they conceded a number of penalties which resulted in reset scrums. Raiders eventually won the ball but in the ensuing ruck/melee the ball was recovered by the Redruth no. 20 and they scored another try, eventually. The referee had to consult with his touch judge re a possible knock on by Redruth, the try was upheld, the conversion was missed. The score now stood at 17-25 with twelve minutes left on the clock. Raiders restarted and the ball was recovered, Kiba made a 30 metre break, the ball was redistributed, a kick and chase rolled dead over the Redruth try line. The Raiders sin bin was over and we were back to full strength. Seventy four minutes saw a change for Worthing, Harrison Sims off, Harry Forrest on. Raiders were now encamped in the Redruth 22 and from a scrum Raiders attacked via no. 8 pickup, out to Kiba who made ground again, the ball was distributed but a wayward pass halted a promising move. Redruth cleared their lines and Raiders had a lineout which they took cleanly and the ball was moved quickly. Raiders were awarded a penalty at the next ruck, Matt Walsh took a quick tap and go but was pulled down illegally, Redruth no. 4 was yellow carded. Matt McLean converted the penalty, 17-28., two minutes to go. Raiders retained the ball from the restart and kicked in to touch to bring the Referees whistle for full time.
Full time score:
Redruth 17 Worthing Raiders 28
This was a great team performance but MoM must go to Curtis Barnes for his hat trick. The lineouts and scrum were top class with only a short spell where we were under pressure in the scrum, but for me the greatest improvement was the absence of double figure penalties in each half that has been the bane of our game for many years.
Thanks go to all the travelling supporters who I am sure had a day to remember. This Raiders squad has given us quite a few ‘days to remember’ this season, long may it continue.
Referee: Adam Wookey
Tries: Curtis Barnes x 3
Cons: Matt McLean x 2
Pens: Matt McLean x 2
15. Matt McLean 14. Curtis Barnes 13. Kiba Richards 12. Harrison Sims 11. Harry Barlow 10. Jack Forrest 9. Matt Walsh – Captain 1. Grant Gatford 2. Jordan Gibson 3. Rhys Litterick 4. George Hammond 5. Jack Lake 6. Ryan Maguire 7. John Dawe 8. Rob Cuffe
16. Henry Birch 17. Kieran Sassone 18. Tom Adams 19. Jon Whittall 20. Harry Forrest