Match report by Colin Coulson. Photos by Warwick Baker.
Saturday 23rd December
For the final game of 2017 Raiders entertained Wimbledon on their first visit to Roundstone Lane since promotion to National League Two South.
Raiders had Max Coyle, George Head and Kieran Tomlinson returning to the squad for this fixture that marks the start of the second half of the season.
On a dark, damp but mild afternoon another crowd of around 450 were hoping for an entertaining match to start the festive period. Despite their position in the league the visitors have shown improving form over recent weeks and Raiders knew this would be another difficult match in this very competitive league.
Jack Forrest kicked off for the home side as they attacked the southern end of the ground in the first half.
Early exchanges were scrappy, both sides guilty of making errors at vital points when on attack. The first quarter of the match remained scoreless.
As the game moved into the second quarter Max Coyle chipped ahead down the right wing, the bounce was not in his favour as the visitors managed to tidy up near their try line. The resulting clearance gave Raiders a line out on the twenty two metre line. The home side executed a good catch and drive and then moved the ball into centre field where Kiba Richards cut a great line to crash through the defence and score under the posts. Matt McLean converted to give the home side a 7 – 0 lead.
Within a couple of minutes the home side were on the scoreboard again. A typical marauding run by skipper Liam Perkins led to a penalty for Raiders. The decision was taken to put the ball into touch and keep Wimbledon deep in their 22 metre area. From the lineout Raiders used the catch and drive to go over the line for their second try, Jon Whittall being the scorer. Matt McLean converted from wide on the right to make the score 14-0 after twenty seven minutes.
Almost from the restart Wimbledon closed the gap to 14-7 with a converted try.
With seven minutes left to half time the home side had a scrum just inside the Wimbledon half, the ball was moved quickly to Jack Forrest who made a clean break of some forty metres before being stopped just short of the try line. From the ruck the ball was quickly recycled and Kiba Richards touched down for his second try of the day and again Matt McLean added the extras. (21-7)
As the clock edged towards the forty minute mark Raiders again kicked a penalty into the corner and won the ensuing lineout. After many close quarter phases of play George Head scored the fourth and bonus point try with Matt McLean making it a seven pointer.
Half time score: Raiders 28 Wimbledon 7
Raiders wanted a good start to the second half, but didn’t get it as the visitors scored a converted try within two minutes. (28-14)
From the restart the home side were quickly back on the attack and deep in Wimbledon territory. From a penalty close to the try line Matt Walsh took a quick tap and was held up short. The ball went through several phases until being held up over the try line. This gave the home side a scrum with a big blind side which they exploited to put Matt McLean in near the corner. Matt converted from the touchline to stretch the lead to 35-14.
Wimbledon fought back well and were helped by the indiscipline of the home side who gave away needless penalties. This gave the visitors the chance to play in the right areas of the pitch and their constant pressure at this time was rewarded with two converted tries. (35-28)
With just under ten minutes to play and Kemp Price yellow carded it was all hands to the pumps to maintain the lead to the final whistle. Raiders kept the ball in play for nearly three minutes until the clock reached full time and Matt Walsh was able to kick the ball out of play to end the game.
This was another game that reached a point where the home side looked set for a comfortable win but instead ended up with another nail biting final few minutes. However another good bonus point win to end the year and see Raiders on 46 points and eighth in the table.
The festive crowd was again in great voice and as always much appreciated by the players.
Final Score: Worthing Raiders 35 Wimbledon 28
Referee: Jack Lewars
B&W Man of the Match: Jack Forrest
Tries: Kiba Richards x 2, Matt McLean, George Head, Jon Whittall.
Cons: Matt McLean x 5
- Max Coyle (Boyland 63 mins) 14. Jack Maslen 13. Kiba Richards 12. Jack Forrest 11. Kieran Tomlinson 10. Matt McLean 9. Matt Walsh 1. Jide Ajayi (Head 31 mins) 2. Will Grief (Luke 63 mins) 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Joe Spurgeon (Dingle 34 mins) 5. Jamie Redmayne 6. Kemp Price 7. Jon Whittall (Dawe 58 mins) 8. Liam Perkins – Captain
- Elliott Luke 17. George Head 18. Michael Dingle 19. John Dawe 20. Sam Boyland