Match report by Colin Coulson Photos by Warwick Baker
After a wet week on the South Coast and two very damp training sessions it was a pleasant surprise that today’s game was played in warm sunny conditions, although the pitch was heavy. A crowd of just under four hundred were hoping to see Raiders carry the good form shown against Canterbury last week into today’s game.
On paper the Raiders’ team looked to be stronger than it had been for many weeks. Alex Nielsen returned to start on the wing and Sam Hewick was selected on the bench after a long injury spell.
Clifton kicked off to start the match and were quickly on the attack. The early pressure was relieved when the visitors infringed at the breakdown and the clearing kick put Raiders into their opponents’ half. A further infringement by Clifton allowed George Montgomery to kick to the corner and give the home team a lineout ten metres from the visitors’ goal line.
From the lineout Raiders executed a powerful catch and drive which Clifton were unable to defend and Grant Gatford was the man in possession as they crossed the line for the first try of the game. Matt McLean was unsuccessful with the conversion from wide out on the left. (5-0)
Raiders now had a short period where they looked dominant and capable of scoring again. A penalty was awarded to the home side for collapsing a maul and another good kick gave the home side another lineout in Clifton’s territory. Unfortunately the lineout was lost and some good back play from Clifton resulted in a try for winger Finlay Sharp under the posts. Bradley Barnes added the extras to make the score 5-7 after fifteen minutes.
The game became very scrappy but it was Clifton who had the lion’s share of the possession and kept the home side on its toes in defence. During this period Clifton had two kickable penalties which fortunately for Raiders were both missed.
Midway through the half the home side very nearly scored an outstanding length of the field try when the ball was released to Kariym Irving on the left wing who beat his opposite man on the outside, then chipped the full back only to be beaten to the touch down by last ditch defence by Clifton.
A few minutes later a break by Kiba Richards led to a pass to Kariym Irving who strolled into score in the corner but the pass was adjudged forward and the try disallowed.
Shortly before half time the home side were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and Matt McLean took the three points on offer to give Raiders an 8-7 lead at the break.
Grant Gatford was replaced by Dan Sargent for the start of the second half. Raiders were looking to extend their narrow lead as early as possible and after some good pressure were rewarded with a penalty which Matt McLean took to extend the lead to 11-7.
Shortly after this Kieran Lemming replaced George Montgomery and Sam Hewick replaced James Hadfield.
Clifton continued to play a wide running game which kept the home defence stretched. Their adventurous style eventually earned them a penalty which they kicked to bring the score to 11-10 with eighteen minutes left to play.
After sixty eight minutes Ryan Storer had to leave the game injured and so grant Gatford returned to the front row and to make matters worse Dan Sargent was yellow carded for a high tackle. This would have been a penalty only a few weeks ago but because of the new interpretation of a high tackle Raiders were left to play out the game with fourteen men. This also brought about uncontested scrums for this period.
Within a minute Raiders lost the lead to a push over try in the corner and although the conversion was missed Clifton now had the lead 11-15. The home side pushed hard in the dying minutes but failed to achieve the illusive winning try.
Final Score; Worthing Raiders 11 Clifton 15
A disappointing result as the scrum had been dominant throughout the match and the backs looked capable of scoring whenever they had good ball, while the lineout again stuttered at important points in the game. Our fate in National Two South is still in our own hands and with the hope of more players returning from injury we must remain optimistic for the rest of the season.
B&W Man of the Match – Jon Whittall
- Ryan Storer (Gatford 69 mins) 2. George Harris 3. Grant Gatford (Sargent 40 mins) 4. Scott Barlow 5. Jack Lake 6. James Hadfield (Hewick 54 mins) 7. Jon Whittall 8. Dino Lamb 9. Sam Boyland 10. George Montgomery (Leeming 50 mins) 11. Alex Nielsen 12. Kiba Richards 13. Finlay Coxon-Smith 14. Kariym Irving 15. Matt McLean – Captain
- Will Grief 17. Dan Sargent 18. Sam Hewick 19. Kieran Leeming 20. Ben Loosmore