Match report by Colin Coulson and photos by Warwick Baker
This week was game fifteen and incredibly the halfway point in the season. The final game of the first round of matches brought Dings Crusaders to Roundstone Lane for their first visit since the 2014/15 season. Having returned to National 2 South they have had an impressive first half to the season with seven wins, thirty five points and sitting two places above Raiders in the league.
Selection was again tricky with Henry Birch, Kieran Sassone, George Hammond and Harry Barlow all unavailable after last week’s visit to Old Redcliffians. On top of an already lengthy list of injured it is a credit to the club that the squad selected was still full of quality players.
The week leading up to the game had seen fine, dry weather on the south coast and so plenty of time was spent preparing the pitch, which as Saturday morning arrived was in perfect condition for a fast, open game. Unfortunately as in the previous two weekends, game day was a wet and windy affair. In fact those at the ground for this match could not remember such awful conditions over the last few seasons. The rain was torrential, the wind strong and temperature very cold. It was not a day for wingers who were more likely to get hypothermia than a try.
Despite the weather a good sized crowd were in attendance, all vying for a sheltered spot to watch the game.
Dings kicked off defending the southern end of the ground. Immediately the conditions came into play, the wind sending the ball out on the full. From the scrum on half way Matt Walsh set Jack Forrest away on the left, his kick ahead landed inside the Dings’ twenty two and their clearing kick travelled the full length of the field to go dead at the other end, again showing the strength of the wind.
From the ensuing scrum Raiders played a more cautious brand of rugby to make progress towards the Dings’ try line. The visitors relieved the pressure with a long kick down field ending with the first lineout of the game on the home side’s ten metre line.
The half developed very much as a forward battle with a lot of kicking for position. Clear chances for the backs to run were few and far between. Despite this the rugby on show was good quality for the most part albeit a different style to that which we expect from Raiders.
Although Dings had the wind in their favour they were unable to take any real advantage from it. Raiders were able to maintain possession for long periods of time showing patience and skill in their play. They were rewarded with a penalty after seventeen minutes which Matt McLean slotted from thirty five metres to take the lead at 3-0.
The home side continued to play good, controlled rugby as the weather conditions got even worse. Raiders earned another long, range penalty attempt but the wind pushed it beyond the far post.
Harrison Sims and John Dawe were prominent crossing the gain line with ball in hand. Raiders nearly scored a try after many phases in the Dings’ twenty two but the final pass went to ground.
Both sides were defending well and using the ball sensibly in the conditions but as half time approached the home side were playing more on attack than in defence.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 3 Dings Crusaders 0
The weather continued to worsen as the game restarted. From a high kick the Dings’ defenders were unable to collect the ball and Kiba Richards gathered it and made good headway towards the try line but again no try resulted the conditions being the only winner at this point.
Both sides were doing their best to play with the ball in hand but Raiders were starting to have the upper hand. The home side’s scrum was winning its own ball on the front foot and putting the visitors on the back foot on their ball.
After twenty minutes an excellent box kick by skipper Matt Walsh ran into touch five metres from the Dings’ try line. Although they won the lineout the visitors could not clear their line. A scrum was awarded to the home side and after several phases near the posts the ball was passed to Jack Forrest who spotted a gap in the defence and darted in for the all important try. Matt McLean converted to stretch the lead to 10-0.
Dings fought back and used possession well to attack deep in the home side’s territory. Despite their repeated attacks to cross the Raiders’ line the defence was immense and kept them out.
As full time approached Raiders were back on the attack and the final act of the game was a penalty attempt by Matt McLean which just drifted past the post. The follow up caught Dings in possession behind their own line and the referee blew the whistle for full time.
An old-fashioned, muddy, forward dominated game but none the less full of good rugby and some inevitable handling errors.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 10 Dings Crusaders 0
A well-earned win for Raiders and very pleasing to see them adapt their game to play so well in the terrible conditions. Well done to Dings for playing their part in making it a competitive match and also the referee and his officials who communicated well with the players and kept the game going.
Referee: Jack Sutton
Tries: Jack Forrest
Cons: Matt McLean
Pens: Matt McLean
B & W Man of the Match: Elliott Luke
- Matt McLean 14. Jack Maslen 13. Kiba Richards 12. Harrison Sims 11. Harry Forrest 10. Jack Forrest 9. Matt Walsh – Captain 1. Grant Gatford 2. Elliott Luke (Gibson 75 mins) 3. Tom Adams 4. Michael Dingle (Lee 78 mins) 5. Jack Lake 6. Jon Whittall 7. John Dawe 8.Rob Cuffe (Harris 57 mins)
- Jordan Gibson 17. Rhys Litterick 18. Jack Lee 19. Ben Holt 20. George Harris