Canterbury 29 Worthing Raiders 24

Saturday 18th September 2021

Match report and photos by Colin Coulson

Game three of the season saw Raiders travel to Canterbury for the first away fixture. It was a very, hot, sunny afternoon and the pitch was in excellent condition for open rugby. The wind as usual was blowing down the slope.

The squad selected showed a few changes from the side that played against Bury St Edmunds the previous week. Nathan Jibulu started in the back row, Kieran Leeming returned to fly half, Matt McLean moved to the wing, Tom Adams, Jon Whittall and Will Beer were added to the bench.

In the first half Raiders played up the slope and Canterbury had the kick-off.

The home side had all the possession in the opening minutes and the visitors were kept deep in their own half. Two early penalties were awarded to Canterbury, and both attempts at the posts failed.

Each time Raiders kicked out of defence or lost possession higher up the field the home side simply used the slope and wind and kicked deep towards the corners.

When Raiders had the ball they used it well, backs and forwards linking to move the ball up field, unfortunately this often resulted in the ball being turned over and the home side kicking it back into Raiders’ territory.

As a result of Canterbury’s early pressure, they scored the first try of the afternoon after seventeen minutes. The try was converted to give them a 7-0 lead.

Within a couple of minutes Raiders were back in the game when a clearance kick from the home side failed to make touch, Matt McLean, Connor Slevin and Jack Forrest combined to take the ball into the home side’s 22 metre area. Will Scholes carried to set up the next ruck then the ball was moved wide to the left where Nathan Jibulu barged his way through the defence to score a well-constructed try. Matt McLean was unable to convert but the gap was reduced to 7-5.

Canterbury scored a second try after twenty-three minutes from good handling but some weak defence. The try was unconverted, but the lead extended to 12-5.

Raiders now had a good period of possession deep in Canterbury territory. After a couple of catch and drives by the visitors the home side managed to clear their line but the ball was still in play with Connor Slevin fielding it and starting a new attack. The ball moved through a couple of phases and ended up in Matt McLean’s hands on the left wing, when he was held up ten metres from the try line, he offloaded neatly to Jerome Rudder who scored in the corner. The conversion was missed but as half time approached the home side’s lead was reduced to 12-10.

Unfortunately, for the visitors Canterbury ended the half by scoring a converted try after charging down a clearance kick and romping in under the posts. Not the way Raiders would have wanted to end the half.

A scrappy sort of half, neither side having control for extended periods. Many turn overs and penalties both ways.

 Half time: Canterbury 19 Worthing Raiders 10

With no changes made at half time it was Raiders who kicked off, now playing down the slope. After a few minutes of quality possession, they were getting closer to the home side’s try line. Rhys Litterick was replaced by Will Hobson in the front row and Will Scholes was replaced by Jon Whittall.

The game was being played deep in Canterbury’s 22 metre area. Raiders had used the catch and drive from the lineout on two occasions but hadn’t quite got over the line. Several attempts were made at close quarters by the forwards but still no luck. Eventually, the home side gave away another penalty, Raiders kicked to the corner and from the lineout a well-executed catch and drive resulted in Captain Henry Birch diving over to score after six minutes of the half. With Matt’s conversion the home side had only a two-point lead at 19-17.

The next score went to the home side and was as a result of some very careless play by the visitors. From the restart Raiders tried to run out of their 22-metre area instead of using the wind and slope to kick the ball back into Canterbury territory. Raiders were punished by giving away a penalty which the home side kicked into the corner for a lineout. Within another minute they had scored a converted try from this situation and extended their lead to 26-17.

Raiders spent most of the half deep in Canterbury territory but couldn’t make the vital breakthrough.

Canterbury made a rare visit into Raiders’ territory and came away with three points from a penalty. 29-17

With ten minutes left to play the home side had a twelve-point lead. Raiders were trying to play with pace in all areas of the field, stretching the defence from touchline to touchline. Twice they crossed the line to score tries but on both occasions the referee ruled them out. Raiders continued to play with tempo whilst the home side tried to slow the game down whenever they could.

When it looked like Raiders would get nothing out of the game, replacement scrum half Cam Dobinson dived over next to the posts to score a bonus point try and with Matt’s conversion the gap was closed to five points and thus the visitors earned two bonus points in defeat.

Final Score: Canterbury 29 Worthing Raiders 24

This was a frustrating game for the visitors as they clearly could and should have taken the victory if they had been a little more clinical in their finishing.

After the first three games of the season Raiders have twelve points and sit in fourth place in the table.

As always a big thank you to all the travelling support.

Referee: Richard Gordon

Scorers

Tries: Nathan Jibulu, Jerome Rudder, Henry Birch, Cam Dobinson

Cons: Matt McLean x 2

Team:

  1. Ken Dowding, 2. Henry Birch – Captain 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Jack Lee 5. Will Scholes
  2. Jack Lake 7. Nathan Jibulu 8. Kemp Price 9. Rhys Morgan 10. Kieran Leeming
  3. Jerome Rudder 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Matt McLean 15. Connor Slevin

Bench: 16. Tom Adams 17. Will Hobson 19. Cam Dobinson 20. Jon Whittall 21. Will Beer