Taunton Titans 62 Worthing Raiders 24

Match report and photos – Colin Coulson

Saturday 1st September 2018

Pre-season training and warm-up matches had gone well for the Raiders’ squad in the build up to another season in National Two South. However the fixture schedule had not been kind to them as they would be starting the season with two away matches. The first against Taunton, who are one of the favourites for the top two places and the second against newly promoted Guernsey with the added logistical problems of flying to the game.

For this first fixture selection was made difficult due to several senior players being unavailable. The side that was selected included debuts for George Brown, Curtis Barnes and Ryan Wilkie.

It was a warm, dry afternoon and the pitch was firm and good for an open, running game.

Taunton kicked off and were quickly on the attack. After five minutes the home side scored their first try which was converted to give them an early 7-0 lead. Raiders defended with great spirit and gradually got themselves into the game.

The visitors broke out of their twenty two with a Jack Forrest kick, Matt McLean put pressure on the last defender forcing Titans to concede a lineout. The line out was won and the ball moved across the backs until Harrison Simms burst through the defence and fed the ball to George Brown who scored in the corner. The difficult conversion was narrowly missed bringing the score to 7-5 after sixteen minutes.

As the half progressed the powerful Taunton Pack made life difficult for the visitors at the set pieces. Although under pressure Raiders continued to defend well and when in possession showed their attacking skills. Chances were created but could not be turned into points. At the other end of the pitch Taunton successfully turned their chances into points and took a 31-5 lead into the halftime break.

Raiders restarted the game after the half time break and were again quickly put under pressure by the home side. Taunton’s lead was growing and as the game entered the final quarter it looked like the visitors would go home empty handed. Those who  watched Raiders last season will know that this young side does not give up easily and many times fights back to earn a bonus point in defeat. Although this looked unlikely with fifteen minutes to go by the final whistle a try bonus point had been earned by the visitors. Matt Walsh scoring twice and Curtis Barnes touching down on the final whistle.

Final score: Taunton Titans 62 Worthing Raiders 24

Although a defeat there were plenty of positives to be taken from the game. George Harris led the way in defence with his high tackle count, Sam Boyland popped up all over the pitch demonstrating both attacking and defensive skills, George Brown, Curtis Barnes, Jack Forrest and Jack Maslen all showed a clean pair of heels to the opposition at times, the pack never gave in and it was due to their persistence that the backs were eventually able to score the tries that earned the bonus point.

A tough, first outing on the road but the squad are looking forward positively to the next challenge – Guernsey away.

It was good to see plenty of Raiders’ supporters in attendance, it is greatly appreciated by the players.

Referee: Philip Davies

Team:

  1. George Brown 14. Jack Maslen 13. Harrison Simms 12. Jack Forrest 11. Curtis Barnes 10. Matt McLean (Captain) 9. Sam Boyland
  2. Sam Cook 2. Henry Birch 3. Grant Gatford 4. Joe Spurgeon 5. Michael Dingle 6. Jon Whittall 7. George Harris 8. Elliott Luke

Bench: 16. Will Grief 17. Tom Adams 18. Ryan Wilkie 23. Jack Lee 21. Matt Walsh