Clifton 31 Worthing Raiders 31

Clifton 31 Worthing Raiders 31

Saturday 9th April 2022

Match report Colin Coulson, photos Andy Wales 

With only four games left in the season before the restructuring of the leagues, Raiders find themselves with another difficult game away from home against third placed Clifton.

With four changes to the squad from the previous week, Raiders were intent on getting back to winning ways. Ken Dowding, Jack Lake, Will Beer and Tom Gwyther all returned to replace Rhys Morgan, Cassius Cleaves, Rob Smith and Josh Tusler.

In clear, sunny conditions on a perfect pitch for running rugby Raiders kicked off with the wind at their backs.

With only six minutes played the visitors were awarded a penalty in mid-field. Kieran Leeming kicked towards the corner and the lineout that ensued was just inside the twenty-two-metre area. The resulting catch and drive was executed perfectly and marched the Clifton forwards relentlessly back towards their own try line until Dan Sargent touched down for the first score of the game. The try was unconverted but Raiders had the early lead at 0-5.

The play was mainly in Clifton’s territory during the first quarter of the game with the visitors moving the point of attack across the full width of the pitch.

After ten minutes the visitors again kicked a penalty from mid-field deep into the home side’s twenty-two metre area. The catch and drive from the lineout moved ever closer to the try line until Cam Dobinson popped a neat pass to Kieran Leeming who took on the defence and forced his way over under the posts. Matt McLean added the extras to extend the lead to 0-12.

Raiders continued to dominate play and a great break by skipper Kemp Price almost led to another score.

It didn’t take long for the visitors to notch up their third try of the afternoon. Cam Dobinson made a defence splitting break after good build up play and Dan Sargent was on hand to take the pass and burst through several tackles to score his second try. Matt McLean converted and the lead stretched to 0-19.

Clifton scored their first try after some good phase play resulting in a converted try which closed the gap to 7-19.

As we entered the second quarter of the match, Matt McLean received a high kick and burst through the on-rushing Clifton chasers to eventually earn the visitors a scrum deep in the twenty-two. As the scrum broke up the referee awarded a penalty to Clifton and sent Ken Dowding to the sin bin for ten minutes. With the man advantage the home side soon scored another converted try making the score 14-19 with half an hour played.

Despite the increased pressure from Clifton attacks, it was Raiders who scored again five minutes before half time. After the visitors had created a good chance to score, they were held up over the line. The resulting goal line drop out gave the ball back to the visitors well inside the Clifton half. Curtis Barnes sprinted down the left flank and chipped ahead resulting in Liam Perkins collecting the ball and romping in to score the bonus point try. Matt McLean converted to stretch the lead to 14 – 26.

A good first half for Raiders who took a twelve-point lead into the break.

Half time score: Clifton 14 Worthing Raiders 26

Clifton restarted the game after the interval and within two minutes had scored an unconverted try to close the gap to 19-26.

Raiders were making good use of the bench, regularly introducing fresh legs in order to maintain the tempo of the game.

During the next twenty-five minutes there was no further scoring. However, it was the home side that was in the ascendency during this period. Raiders defended really well to repel many powerful attacks from the big Clifton forwards.

At one point Will Scholes intercepted the ball on his own twenty-two and he set off for the Clifton line, unfortunately he was brought back for an earlier off-side decision against the visitors.

Under pressure Raiders were guilty of giving away a number of penalties which allowed Clifton to dominate field position. Eventually they punctured the visitors’ defence and scored their bonus point try. The conversion levelled the scores at 26-26 with less than ten minutes to play.

From the restart Clifton knocked on and Raiders had the put in at the scrum. The scrum produced a penalty to the visitors and Kieran Leeming found touch on the Clifton twenty-two metre line. From the lineout Raiders’ forwards drove towards the try line and after several phases at close quarters, Dan Sargent scored his third try of the day. With the conversion missed the visitors now led 26-31 with a few minutes left on the clock.

The scoring wasn’t over yet and Clifton hit back quickly to level the scores at 31-31with an unconverted try.

At this point no-one really knew how much time was left, forty minutes had passed by on the running clock, so now it was just the time the referee was adding on for stoppages. The period lasted more than six minutes and both teams were playing at a frantic pace in the search for the winning score, chances were created and errors made, but in the end neither side could capitalise to get the elusive score.

Full time score: Clifton 31 Worthing Raiders 31

A well fought game between two well-matched sides, ending with both teams earning three points to add to their league totals.

A shame this will probably be the last meeting between these clubs due to the restructuring of the leagues.

Referee: Neil Sweeney

Attendance: 288

Scorers:

Tries: Sargent (3), Leeming, Perkins

Cons: McLean (3)

Team:

  1. Dan Sargent 2. Elliott Luke 3. Ken Dowding 4. Liam Perkins 5. Jack Lake 6. Kemp Price – Captain 7. Elliott Quinton 8. Frank Taggart 9. Cam Dobinson 10. Kieran Leeming 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Will Beer 15. Matt McLean

Bench:

  1. Nathan Jibulu 17. Fraser Bruce 18. Rhys Litterick 20. Will Scholes 22. Tom Gwyther