Tonbridge Juddians 41 Worthing Raiders 14
Match report David Hinchliffe
The Raiders made the relatively short journey to Tonbridge to face a Juddians side sitting second in the table. Dan Peach started at scrum half with Matt McLean outside him and Ross Miller on the wing. In the pack, Liam Perkins returned at No.8 and Rhys Litterick was rested. Grant Gatford started at Tight Head with Elliott Luke and Jordan Gibson swapping bench and start places as Hooker.
The pitch was extremely heavy, but the game started with both sides willing to run the ball. McLean’s early break almost saw The Raiders take the lead but he was tackled short of the line. Worthing continued to attack but an enterprising move down the right wing resulted in an interception and an unconverted TJs try in the corner. (5-0)
The Raiders upped their efforts and had plenty of ball, but the referee preferred the home side’s approach at the breakdown and repeated blasts of the whistle prevented them from capitalising on their possession. Having defended a number of lineout drives resulting from these penalties successfully they eventually conceded three points. (8-0)
Tom Adams replaced Gatford, but another whistle brought a yellow card for Jack Lee and another lineout to defend. The initial drive was repulsed but the extra man told and TJs were able to score a converted try. This was the last act before the break and, just as at Redruth, The Raiders had worked hard to hold the score to 8-0 only to concede on the stroke of half time. (15-0)
With six minutes still to run on Lee’s card the visitors could have been excused for a “hang in there” approach but they began the second half as they had the first and this time they were successful. A concerted attack sucked in the defence and the ball was then moved wide to Henry Birch, loitering with intent on the wing, to “sprint” in for a try in the corner. Matt McLean made the difficult conversion and The Raiders were back in the game. (15-7)
The whistle continued to restrict The Raiders’ attacking opportunities and it was TJs who scored next through their lock McHugh, the conversion taking the lead back out to fifteen points. (22-0) Birch and Luke were immediately replaced by Sam Cook and Jordan Gibson and five minutes later Dan Peach and Ryan Maguire gave way to Henry Anscombe and Freddie Holmes.
The visitors now had to chase the game, but the heavy going was taking its toll and gaps began to appear in what had been a good defensive line. Three tries, two of them converted, took the game away from them in the space of ten minutes but they stuck to the task as well as the pitch!
The game finished as it had begun, with a break by McLean but this time he was able to get the ball away cleanly to Kieran Leeming, who dotted down under the posts to give his benefactor an easy conversion. The referee blew for the successful kick and then for no side, to bring the game to an end.
With a very hard month behind them and the season two-thirds completed, The Raiders look forward to a return to The Rugby Park next week where they entertain Old Albanians and will be looking to get back to winning ways.
Full time score: Tonbridge Juddians 41 Worthing Raiders 14
Referee: Calum Howard
Tries: Henry Birch, Kieran Leeming
Con: Matt McLean x 2
1. Henry Birch (Cook 56 min) 2. Elliott Luke (Gibson 56 min) 3. Grant Gatford (Adams 31 min, Gatford 63 min) 4. Jack Lee 5. Jack Lake 6. Ryan Maguire (Holmes 61 min) 7. Jon Whittall 8. Liam Perkins – Captain 9. Dan Peach (Anscombe 61 min) 10. Matt McLean 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Kieran Leeming 13. Jack Forrest 14. Ross Miller 15. Will Beer
Bench:16. Jordan Gibson 17. Tom Adams 18. Sam Cook 19. Freddie Holmes 20. Henry Anscombe