Match report by Colin Coulson and photos by Warwick Baker
With only three games left in the season Raiders came to this game too close to the relegation zone for comfort. A win was vital to stay ahead of the other teams that found themselves in a similar position to Raiders.
The visitors to Roundstone Lane were Old Redcliffians who were on the same points but one place above the Raiders in the league. Both sides had everything to play for and could ill afford to come away from the game without any points.
It was a bright, dry day with a blustery wind blowing from the North East. The pitch was in good condition for a fast, game and the crowd of over five hundred were looking forward nervously to what should be an attractive game.
Jack Lake returned to the side but otherwise the squad was unchanged from the previous week at Tonbridge Juddians.
Old Redcliffians kicked off defending the northern end of the ground and took immediate advantage when Raiders failed to catch the kick off cleanly. Within a minute they had scored their first try of the day and converted it to lead 0-7.
Raiders slowly got into the game and having put pressure on the visitors’ defence were soon on the scoreboard with two penalties from Matt McLean to bring the score to 6-7 after twelve minutes.
Old Reds were making good use of their strong forwards and before the first quarter was over they had another converted try to stretch the lead to 6-14.
As the game moved into the second quarter it was the home side on the attack. The referee awarded a penalty to raiders close to Old Reds’ try line. Kiba Richards picked up from the scrum and broke up the blind side, he was stopped just short of the line and from the resulting ruck, skipper Matt Walsh darted over to score Raiders first try of the game. Matt McLean converted to close the gap to one point at 13-14.
The home side were playing well with ball in hand but the visitors’ forwards were taking some stopping when they had the ball. However it didn’t take long for Raiders to record their second try when from a lineout Kiba Richards broke off the maul to score in the corner. An excellent conversion from Matt McLean gave Raiders a 20-14 lead.
Before half time arrived Old Reds scored an unconverted try from a line out close to the try line. (20-19)
At half time the contest was as tight as everyone had expected it to be. The second half was sure to be a nervous affair for the home fans.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 20 Old Redcliffians 19
Elliott Luke and Jack Lee replaced Kiba Richards and Will Grief at half time. Raiders kicked off now attacking the southern end of the ground.
Raiders were quickly into their stride and a good handling move up the blind side saw Curtis Barnes make thirty metres but the try was prevented when his off load went forward in the tackle.
Only a couple of minutes later Raiders kicked a penalty into the corner for a line out ten metres from the visitor’s try line. The initial catch and drive was held up and the ball then fed to Jack Lake who took the tackle and set up the ruck, Matt Walsh passed to Matt McLean who split the defence and dived over under the posts with the conversion the lead was stretched to 27-19.
The visitors almost picked up three points from a penalty but as the kicker approached the ball, it fell off the tee, he quickly picked it up and tried to drop a goal, the ball hit the upright and was caught and kicked clear into touch near the halfway line by Raiders. A lucky escape. Old Reds however soon came back and scored a converted try to bring the game back to a one point gap. (27-26)
Raiders were playing good rugby as they moved the ball between backs and forwards making progress up the field towards the visitors try line. Eventually they got the bonus point try when Harry Forrest rounded off this passage of play with the touch down in the left hand corner. With the conversion missed the lead was now 32-26.
The home side continued to play well and the fifth try came soon after. From a scrum on half way Matt Walsh fed the backs up the blind side, Harry Forrest gave a well-timed pass to his brother Jack who sped down the wing, side stepped the last defender and scored possibly the most important try of the season so far. Matt McLean converted and the lead now looked large enough to defend until the final whistle. (39-26)
Old Reds came straight back at the home side and after applying pressure on the defence Jon Whittall received a yellow card. The visitors chose to scrummage in front of the posts and it wasn’t long before the referee awarded a penalty try to close the gap to 39-33.
With a few minutes left to play the crowd were again going through a very nervous time. As full time drew nearer Raiders cleverly controlled possession going from ruck to ruck at close quarters until the clock went red and Matt Walsh kicked the ball off the pitch to bring a pulsating game to a close.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 39 Old Redcliffians 33
The win puts Raiders on fifty eight points and that much closer to securing their place in National Two South.
There were many fine individual performances but it was in the end the massive team effort that got the result that was so desperately needed.
The crowd support throughout the game was tremendous and greatly appreciated by the players.
Referee: Benjamin Wilde
Tries: Walsh, Richards, McLean, Forrest H, Forrest J
Cons: Matt McLean x 4
Pens: Matt McLean x 2
B & W Man of the Match: Kiba Richards
- Harry Forrest 14. Jack Maslen 13. Jack Forrest 12. Tom Miller (Gwyther 60 mins) 11. Curtis Barnes 10. Matt McLean 9. Matt Walsh – Captain 1. Henry Birch 2. Will Grief (Luke 40 mins) 3. Rhys Litterick (Gatford 68 mins) 4. Rob Cuffe 5. Jack Lake 6. John Whittall 7. George Harris 8. Kiba Richards (Jack Lee 40 mins)
- Elliott Luke 17. Grant Gatford 18. Jack Lee 19. Ben Holt 20. Tom Gwyther