Match report by Colin Coulson and photos by Warwick Baker
With only seven games left in the season every game is like a cup final for many teams in the league. Some are fighting for the playoff spot, some to avoid relegation and the rest in a very closely fought mid table battle. Raiders find themselves needing every point possible to stay out of the relegation zone.
This week’s opponents were Bury St Edmunds sitting in eighth place and six points ahead of Raiders.
Tom Miller, John Dawe and Sam Boyland were all unavailable so Jon Whittall, Curtis Barnes and Dave Winsor replaced them in the squad.
Raiders kicked off attacking the northern end of the ground. The visitors kicked out of defence and Kiba Richards carried the ball back over the halfway line to create a ruck. The ball was passed to matt McLean on the blind side and he set off through the first line of defence and then sold two dummies before scoring the first try of the day after only one minute of play, with the conversion missed Raiders had an early 5-0 lead.
During the early stages of the game the scrum and lineout were providing good possession for the home side.
Between twenty and thirty minutes Bury scored two converted tries to take the lead 5-14.
Raiders were creating situations but inaccuracy in passing and failing to maintain possession prevented them from scoring any tries.
In the final ten minutes of the half the teams exchanged penalties to bring the score to 8-17.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 8 Bury St Edmunds 17
Bury St Edmunds restarted after the break but the kick didn’t travel ten metres so Raiders had a scrum on the halfway line to give them first use of the ball in the second half. Despite a good start for the home side it was the visitors who had the next score after four minutes, a converted try. The home side now finding themselves with an 8-24 deficit with thirty five minutes to play.
It only took a couple of minutes for Raiders to hit back. From a penalty they kicked into the corner and had a lineout deep in the visitors twenty two. After a couple of phases the ball went across the pitch and Matt McLean fed the ball to Curtis Barnes who split the defence at pace and scored a try which Matt converted to close the gap to 15-24.
Bury used the wind to kick long out of defence throughout the half, something raiders hadn’t done in the first half.
Things were looking bad for the home side when after ten minutes Harry Forrest was sin binned.
Raiders were playing well in patches and had the lion’s share of the territory but couldn’t get that next important score. The home side’s defence was good and through this period of the game the visitors didn’t look like adding to their score.
With about ten minutes to play Raiders had Bury under pressure ten metres from their goal line when the referee awarded them a penalty. Rather than kick to the corner the ball was tapped and after a couple of rucks the ball was given to Curtis Barnes up the blindside who dived full length to squeeze in at the corner. (20-24)
Matt McLean kicked an excellent conversion into the wind to close the gap to two points. (22-24)
In the next few minutes the home side pressed hard and kept themselves in Bury’s territory but with two minutes left on the clock the visitors got their hands on the ball and closed the game out with a series of close quarter drives until time was up and they kicked the ball off the pitch.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 22 Bury St Edmunds 24
Another frustrating game that was there for the winning. A bonus point had been earned but more had been possible. Raiders played a lot of exciting rugby at times but handling errors let them down at key moments.
Harry Barlow had an impressive game making hard hitting tackles and line busting runs but he was pipped at the post for Man of the Match by George Harris who, as usual, tackled anything that moved and punched well above his weight when carrying the ball into the opposition.
Referee: Ben Wilde
Tries: Matt McLean, Curtis Barnes x 2
Cons: Matt McLean x 2
Pens: Matt McLean
B & W Man of the Match: George Harris
- Harry Forrest 14. Harry Barlow (Winsor 76 mins) 13. Jack Forrest 12. Dave Winsor (Maslen 40 mins) 11. Curtis Barnes 10. Matt McLean – Captain 9. Ben Holt 1. Henry Birch 2. Jordan Gibson (Luke 57 mins) 3. Rhys Litterick (Sassone 57 mins, Litterick 75 mins) 4. George Hammond 5. Jack Lake 6. Rob Cuffe (Whittall 55 mins) 7. George Harris 8. Kiba Richards
- Elliott Luke 17. Grant Gatford 18. Kieran Sassone 19. Jon Whittall 20. Jack Maslen