Match report by Colin Coulson and photos by Warwick Baker
Game nine brought Old Albanian to Roundstone Lane after a gap of three years during which time they had played in National One. Conditions were good for an open game on this dry, cold day with a northerly wind. Another large crowd close to five hundred was in attendance.
Raiders’ selection saw Kieran Sassone unavailable so Grant Gatford returned to the starting line-up, Liam Perkins and Kiba Richards both returned to the squad after injury and Alex Basson made his debut from the bench after the late withdrawal of Jack Maslen.
Playing into the northerly wind, Raiders kicked off. The first twenty minutes belonged to the visitors as they made use of the wind and their powerful forwards to keep the home side on the defensive. During this period they scored two converted tries to a penalty from Matt McLean. (3-14)
As Raiders settled into their game their defence looked more solid and several phases of attacking play put the visitors on the back foot. Both sides made basic errors at times and forfeited the chance to score more points.
Shortly before half time an excellent break by Kemp Price took the game deep into the visitors’ territory. After several phases of play, skipper Liam Perkins crashed over from fifteen metres. With the conversion unsuccessful the score was 8-14 as the whistle went for half time.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 8 Old Albanian 14
At the start of the second half Tom Adams and Jack Lee replaced Grant Gatford and Nye Rees respectively.
Old Albanian restarted the game defending the southern end of the ground.
The home side made a much more positive start to the second half and were quickly on the attack. After five minutes the visitors had a scrum on the half way line. They moved the ball to the right wing where Liam Perkins and Harry Forrest made a combined tackle resulting in Harry stealing the ball and releasing Ben Holt who outstripped the defence with a fine try from 45 metres out. The score now closed to 13-14.
Raiders continued to play good attacking rugby and looked likely to score again, until Old Albanian were gifted an interception try from inside their own half. The conversion was good and they now led by 13-21.
The home side now required two scores instead of one to take the lead.
The game continued to be rather scrappy with errors still occurring on both sides.
Raiders had opportunities from lineouts around the visitors’ twenty two metre line but they couldn’t capitalise. When the home side received a penalty they decided to kick for goal as a successful kick would only mean one score was needed to take the lead, plus if the score stayed the same it would earn a losing bonus point. Matt McLean calmly kicked the points to close the gap to 16-21.
With just over ten minutes to go and Raiders back on the attack a high tackle on Tom Gwyther saw him leave the field unable to carry on. The offending player received a red card. The resulting long range penalty attempt from matt McLean landed on the cross bar and bounced out into the hands of a defender and they were able to clear. The sending off changed the mood in the crowd and saw the home side become the dominant force in the scrum.
For the last ten minutes Raiders were camped inside the visitors’ twenty two metre area. It looked like a win could be achieved in the last few minutes. The home side came close several times but couldn’t cross the line. Penalties against Old Albanian saw Raiders opt for scrums in an attempt to go over from close range. The referee penalised the visitors at the scrum more than once and when he yellow carded one of their forwards for an infringement as a try was about to be scored, the crowd presumed a penalty try would be awarded … but it wasn’t.
Undeterred Raiders continued their siege on the goal line and when the ball was moved wide to the left the last pass was given and the try looked a certainty but the visitors’ winger jumped high and with one hand knocked the ball forward preventing the score. Again everyone felt a penalty try would be awarded but it was only another penalty.
After all the efforts from the team they had no reward and the whistle went for full time. Both players and the crowd were bemused by this strange passage of play they had witnessed over the last ten minutes.
A losing bonus point had been achieved but in this scrappy game a win had sadly eluded them at the death.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 16 Old Albanian 21
Referee: Henry Lowis
Tries: Liam Perkins, Ben Holt
Pens: Matt McLean x 2
B & W Man of the Match: Henry Birch
- Matt McLean 14. Sam Boyland (Richards 55 mins) 13. Jack Forrest 12. Harrison Sims 11. Harry Forrest 10. Tom Gwyther (Basson 69 mins) 9. Ben Holt (Boyland 65 mins) 1. Henry Birch 2. Elliott Luke (Grief 77 mins) 3. Grant Gatford (Adams 40 mins) 4. Nye Rees (Lee 40 mins) 5. Jack Lake 6. George Harris 7. Kemp Price 8. Liam Perkins – Captain
- Will Grief 17. Tom Adams 18. Jack Lee 19. Alex Basson 20. Kiba Richards
Robert Cuffe of Raiders A receives his Man of the Match award from Richard Short and Debbie Bulled.
Raider Henry Birch receives his B&W man of the Match award from Debbie Bulled and daughter Elisha on behalf of ETI Ltd, match sponsors.