Worthing Raiders 19 Henley Hawks 42

Match report by Colin Coulson, photos Warwick Baker

After a run of poor results this week Raiders faced the difficult task of playing Henley who are clearly in contention for the Runners Up spot in the league.

After a very wet week with pitches under water, very little training had been possible for Raiders. Selection continued to be a problem with John Dawe, Kiba Richards and Matt Walsh injured against London Irish and not available for selection.

Despite the rainfall throughout the week the pitch was surprising dry mainly due to the strong winds over the last thirty six hours.

Although the Internationals were live on TV a healthy crowd of over 350 was present for the important fixture.

Raiders kicked off attacking the southern end of the ground.

Henley were quickly into their stride and had most of the possession in the early stages. With the home side making several handling errors the visitors were able to maintain territorial advantage and with only seven minutes gone they had a fourteen point lead. (0-14)

As the game settled down there was a twenty minute spell with no further scoring from either team. Just before the half hour mark Henley scored another converted try to stretch the lead. (0-21)

Raiders were creating pressure on themselves with too many inaccurate passes leading to  knock-ons. It was also fair to say that the Henley defence across the field was up quickly and tackled aggressively.

It wasn’t until nearly half an hour had passed before Raiders entered  the visitors’ twenty two with the ball in their possession.

What looked like a good try for the home side was cancelled out by the referee for obstruction at the previous ruck.

During the final ten minutes of the half Raiders gained momentum and put Henley under pressure until eventually a try was scored after Ben Holt set Jack Forrest up the blindside of a ruck, he fed the ball to Matt McLean who sprinted twenty metres to score in the corner. Matt kicked an excellent conversion from the touchline. (7-21)

The referee blew for half time moments later leaving the visitors with a fourteen point lead.

Half time score: Worthing Raiders 7 Henley Hawks 21

Henley restarted the game and just like the first half they had two converted tries after ten minutes. The lead suddenly extended to 7-35. By the end of the third quarter they had another converted try.

The final quarter belonged to the home side as they started to play with much more pace and confidence. Henley were forced to defend inside their twenty two metre area for long periods, they were forced to give away penalties as the home side kept the pressure on them.

A break from the base of a ruck by Sam Boyland saw him exchange passes with Rob Cuffe before being tackled five metres short of the line.

The home side kept the visitors pinned down until a chip from Matt McLean was caught by Harry Forrest who touched down. Matt converted 14-42

The home side were quickly back deep in Henley territory and it was George Hammond who picked up at a ruck and dived over to close the gap to 19-42.

With one minute left on the clock there was still belief that a bonus point could be rescued from the game.

The highlight of the match then followed. Rob Cuffe caught the Henley restart and passed to Curtis Barnes inside the Raiders’ twenty two. Curtis ran across the twenty two line then went through a gap to set off straight up the middle of the field. His pace took him through the whole of the Henley defence and if he hadn’t been momentarily slowed down by an attempted tackle he would have scored under the posts. Unfortunately this final attempted tackle gave the defenders time to catch up and Curtis was brought down five metres short of what would have been the try of the season.

Seconds later the referee blew up for full time.

Full time score: Worthing Raiders 19 Henley Hawks 42

The performance of the home side in the last twenty minutes was like a different team had taken to the field. Everything happened at pace and it looked like they could score several tries. However the first sixty minutes saw the home side miss too many first up tackles and make far too many handling errors, thus the game was already lost.

It looks like being a tense end to the season as Raiders are not far from the relegation battle.

Referee: Hamish Grant

Scorers:

Tries: McLean, Forrest H, Hammond

Cons: Matt McLean x 2

B & W Man of the Match: Tom Miller

Team:

  1. Harry Forrest 14. Curtis Barnes (Forrest 67 mins, Barnes 71 mins) 13. Harry Barlow 12. Tom Miller 11. Jack Forrest (Sims 55 mins) 10. Matt McLean- Captain 9. Ben Holt (Boyland 52 mins) 1. Grant Gatford (Gibson 52 mins) 2. Henry Birch 3. Kieran Sassone (Litterick 55 mins) 4. George Hammond 5. Jack Lee 6. Jack Lake 7. Jon Whittall (Harris 59 mins) 8. Rob Cuffe

Bench:

  1. Jordan Gibson 17. Rhys Litterick 18. George Harris 19. Sam Boyland 20. Harrison Sims

Attendance: 355