Match report David Hinchliffe. Images by Andy Wales.
WESTCLIFF 29 WORTHING RAIDERS 34
Injuries dictated a number of changes to the Raiders squad making its first ever visit to Westcliff. With Liam Perkins, Jack Lake, Jordan Gibson and Will Beer all unavailable after the disappointing last gasp loss to Old Albanians, Ryan Maguire joined Jack Lee in the second row, Will Grief started at blindside flanker and Tom Adams joined the bench. Also benching was Harrison Sims, making his first appearance of the season after a long lay-off through injury.
Whilst storm Ciara had not arrived there was a strong wind gusting across the pitch as the game began. Westcliff were quick off the blocks and pressed hard from the kick-off, within three minutes their centre had split the visitors’ defence to open the scoring with a converted try (7-0). The Raiders worked hard to get back into the game but the re-arranged scrum was taking time to gel. After fourteen minutes they won a lineout in their own half and quickly spun the ball wide to Harry Forrest who made forty metres to score under the posts. Matt McLean added the extras to level the account at (7-7).
Both sides were guilty of squandering opportunities but it was the hosts who succeeded next with a try on the left wing, the conversion was missed but they were back in the lead (12-7) Pressure from The Raiders soon forced them to concede a penalty, which McLean kicked to close the gap (12-10) and the Sussex side approached the break only two points behind. A handling error gave the home side a scrum in a good attacking position and from the set piece their forwards battered the line until they crossed in the corner. The successful conversion was the last act of the first half and Worthing returned to the changing room nine points adrift (19-10).
If The Raiders were looking to start the second half well and close the gap, they were to be disappointed. Within a minute they had lost a lineout in their own half and, with good field position, Westcliff spun the ball wide for their winger to run in and score under the posts. The easy conversion took the gap to sixteen points and a considerable hill, if not yet a mountain faced the visitors. The Raiders exerted pressure but were unable to break down the home defence, however the pressure led their hosts to concede repeated penalties, followed by the inevitable yellow card for their blindside flanker. Henry Birch and Rhys Litterick made way for Sam Cook and Tom Adams in the front row, looking to capitalise on the man advantage. The first attempt to breach the depleted defence failed but a clearance kick was fielded by McLean who released Curtis Barnes in mid field. The winger’s pace was enough to cut through the defence untouched and McLean’s conversion closed the gap back to nine points (26-17). With their lead cut and a man down, Westcliff kicked long to keep play in their visitors’ half. Tom Gwyther and Harrison Sims replaced Dan Peach and Henry Anscombe, so Kieran Leeming moved to scrum half with McLean outside him. Still penned in their own half Worthing conceded a penalty, which was converted and the gap widened to twelve points with only ten minutes remaining (29-17). Grant Gatford replaced Ryan Maguire but with five of those minutes gone The Raiders were still looking for a third try to secure a losing bonus point, the final five minutes however changed that picture completely.
From a scrum on the Westcliff 10m line Worthing built the phases patiently across the field and back again, eventually they created a gap in the home defence and Jack Forrest took his chance to dart through it, grounding the ball close to the posts to give McLean an easy conversion (29-24). Again, Westcliff kicked the restart long but it was well taken by the Raiders’ pack. The ball was spun across the field in two passes, with Barnes on the receiving end. From inside his own 22m the winger lit the afterburners to outstrip everyone and score close to the posts, McLean added the extras and, with two minutes left on the clock, The Raiders held the lead for the first time in the game (29-31).
This time the restart was short but the tap back by a Westcliff player was snapped up by Sims, his break was halted by a high tackle and The Raiders had a penalty in front of the posts, though thirty metres out, with ninety seconds on the clock. McLean made no mistake and now it was all about managing the final restart. Elliott Luke took the ball and the pack made sure it was secure before Leeming fed it back to McLean to launch it into touch. Mr Howard blew for no side and five league points were in the bag.
Next Saturday The Raiders return to The Rugby Park to host Clifton. Another tough game in view, your support would be very welcome.
Referee: Calum Howard
Try: Harry Forrest, Curtis Barnes x 2, Jack Forrest
Con: Matt McLean x 4
Pen: Matt McLean x 2
1.Henry Birch (Cook 63 min) 2. Elliott Luke 3. Rhys Litterick (Adams 63 min) 4. Jack Lee 5. Ryan Maguire (Gatford 72 min) 6. Will Grief 7. Jon Whittall 8. Freddie Holmes 9. Dan Peach (Gwyther 68 min) 10. Henry Anscombe (Sims 68 min) 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Kieran Leeming 13. Jack Forrest 14. Harry Forrest 15. Matt McLean
16. Sam Cook 17. Tom Adams 18. Grant Gatford 19. Tom Gwyther 20. Harrison Sims