Match report by Colin Coulson and photos by Warwick Baker
Clifton were the opponents for the first home game of 2019. Expectations were high after Raiders won away to Redruth the previous week.
Harry Forrest and Matt Walsh were unavailable so Jack Maslen returned to the squad after illness and Danny Peach made his first start of the season at scrum half.
On a dull, cold afternoon the crowd of over four hundred anticipated an open game and that is exactly what they got.
Raiders kicked off attacking the southern end of the ground and were quickly into their stride with a multiphase attack which took them deep into Clifton’s territory. The first stoppage in play didn’t come until three minutes had elapsed.
Clifton’s first use of the ball in Raiders’ territory was well defended and ended with a twenty two metre drop out. Jack Forrest kicked long and the home side’s chase was good putting pressure on Clifton as they tried to run out of their own half. George Hammond intercepted the ball on the visitors’ ten metre line and sprinted forty metres unopposed to score the first try of the day. With the conversion missed Raiders had an early lead 5-0.
After an excellent kick in open play from Jack Forrest, Raiders had a lineout deep in the Clifton twenty two. A multiphase attack close to Clifton’s try line should have resulted in a try for the home side but a forward pass prevented any addition to the score.
Over the next fifteen minutes Raiders had plenty of possession in Clifton’s half but the visitors defended well and eventually got themselves into some good attacking areas before scoring their first try after twenty five minutes. With the successful conversion they took the lead 5-7.
As the first half moved into the last ten minutes the scoring by both sides suddenly erupted. From a ruck just inside Clifton’s territory Harry Barlow found himself at scrum half – he picked up and sprinted forward splitting the close defence then set off to outpace the cover and dive in under the posts. Matt McLean converted to regain the lead 12-7.
It only took another three minutes and Raiders scored their third try. Clifton brought the ball forward and in an attempt to continue the attack the ball was kicked forward on the floor, Matt McLean won the race to the ball and used his football skills to kick it forward – the ball bounced kindly for him enabling him to collect it and sprint forty metres to score under the posts. He converted to stretch the lead to 19-7.
At this point things looked good for Raiders but during the final few minutes of the half Clifton scored twice to snatch the lead back just on half time.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 19 Clifton 21
Clifton restarted the game after half time and within two minutes had scored another try due to some weak tackling by Raiders. The lead was now 19-28. Matt McLean replied shortly afterwards with a penalty to narrow the gap to 22-28.
Both sides were playing good rugby and the game was going from end to end however it was the visitors who were being more clinical in their finishing and it wasn’t long before they added another seven points to their total, 22-35.
Raiders played with glimpses of quality but were inconsistent and couldn’t maintain the pressure on the visitors, this combined with some weak defending made the task more difficult.
A good passage of play after runs from Curtis Barnes and Harry Barlow eventually led to a second try for George Hammond. With Matt McLean converting the gap closed to 29-35.
With twenty five minutes to go the game could still go either way. After a further twenty minutes there had been no more scores for either side. Entering the last five minutes the next score was going to decide the game. Unfortunately for Raiders it was Clifton who finished the stronger and as they picked up a further two tries before the final whistle.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 29 Clifton 49
Raiders picked up a try bonus point but the coaches and players were disappointed with the overall team display. There had been some outstanding pieces of individual play but this young squad still has a long way to go to reach its potential as a team.
Referee: Philip Davies
Tries: George Hammond x 2, Matt McLean, Harry Barlow
Cons: Matt McLean x 3
Pens: Matt McLean
B & W Man of the Match: George Hammond
- Matt McLean – Captain 14. Curtis Barnes 13. Kiba Richards 12. Harrison Sims (Maslen 54 mins) 11. Harry Barlow 10. Jack Forrest 9. Dan Peach 1. Grant Gatford 2. Jordan Gibson (Birch 50 mins) 3. Tom Adams (Sassone 25 mins, Adams 69 mins) 4. George Hammond 5. Jack Lake 6. Ryan Maguire (Harris 40 mins) 7. John Dawe 8.Rob Cuffe (Whittall 50 mins)
- Henry Birch 17. Kieran Sassone 21. George Harris 19. Jon Whittall 20. Jack Maslen