Saturday 2nd September 2017
Match report by Colin Coulson Photos by Warwick Baker
A hot, late summer’s day heralded the arrival of the new National 2 South league season at Roundstone Lane.
Several of our most experienced players have retired from rugby at this level and so we’ll not have the likes of Scott Barlow, Ryan Storer, Rob Smith, Finlay Coxon-Smith, Ben Loosmore, and Alex Nielsen on the field this season. Their contributions to Raiders’ performances have been immense over the years and will be missed.
The Raiders’ squad for today’s game included summer signings, Matt Walsh, Kemp Price, John Dawe, Elliott Worrall, Sam Hampson, Joe Spurgeon, Jack Maslen and George Head (Harlequins Academy).
The crowd of nearly 500 were eager to see the new look squad in action.
Raiders kicked off through the boot of Kieran Leeming and a fast open game was set in motion. It was Wild Geese who settled quickest and they opened the scoring with a converted try after only two minutes. At the first scrum of the match it was evident that the home side were dominant and the referee awarded a penalty in their favour. After a period of possession inside the opponents 22, Raiders had a scrum 5 yards from the try line. The power of the scrum put the defence on the back foot and allowed Liam Perkins to pick up at the base and score unopposed. Matt McLean added the extras to bring the score to 7-7. The visitors continued to play a fast open brand of rugby and were rewarded with another try in the 18th minute, the conversion was unsuccessful. 7-12.
For the next ten minutes Wild Geese had the majority of possession but the Raiders’ defence held firm. The final ten minutes of the half saw Raiders playing with great confidence and skill. The interplay between backs and forwards was excellent. Dan Sargent made a characteristic burst for the line, and from the ruck that followed Liam Perkins scored his second try of the day. With the conversion missed, Raiders were level at 12-12.
From the restart Raiders were quickly back on the attack and an outstanding cross-field kick from Kieran Leeming was caught at full pace by Sam Hampson who sprinted in to score to the left of the posts. With the conversion from Matt McLean, the home side moved into a 19-12 lead.
A great end to the half for the home side.
Half-time Raiders 19 Wild Geese 12
The visitors kicked off in the second half and were quickly back into their stride. Sam Hampson was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on and it was during this period that Wild Geese levelled the scores with a converted try. 19-19.
Raiders made good use of their replacements during the second half in order to maintain the high pace of the game. The score remained the same for most of the half. Both sides had plenty of possession and played attractive rugby. Raiders came close to scoring on a couple of occasions but couldn’t quite get over the line. As the game moved into the last five minutes, Raiders’ pressure on the opposition defence earned them a penalty 25 metres from the posts. Matt McLean kicked the 3 points to give the home side a slender lead.
Within a minute, Sam Boyland sprinted over in the corner to round off some good handling and bring the first bonus point of season. 27-19.
In the final moments of the game the visitors attacked the Raiders’ line, but were unable to score the try they sought. Eventually, from the final kick of the game they kicked a penalty to secure a losing bonus point.
Final score 27-22.
A good start to the season, a game with lots of exciting open play for the crowd to enjoy and most importantly a bonus point win.
Coach Jody Levett was particularly pleased with the way the team had closed out the game, something that has been a problem in recent seasons when defending a lead. Other positives were the quality of ball produced from scrum and lineout allowing the team to play on the front foot and the way the new players have settled into the squad.
Bowers & Wilkins Man of the Match: Liam Perkins
15 Kieran Leeming, 14 Jack Maslen, 13 Kiba Richards, 12 Jack Forrest, 11 Sam Hampson (Boyland, 54 mins), 10 Matt McLean, 9 Matt Walsh, 1 George Head (Gatford, 49 mins), 2 Will Gearing-Grief, 3 Dan Sargent (Adams, 40 mins), 4 Joe Spurgeon (Worrall, 65 mins), 5 Jack Lake, 6 Kemp Price, 19 John Dawe, 8 Liam Perkins – Captain.
Replacements: 16 George Harris, 17 Elliott Worrall, 18 Grant Gatford, 24 Tom Adams, 21 Sam Boyland.
Tries: Perkins 2, Hampson 1, Boyland 1
Conversions: McLean 2
Penalties: McLean 1