Dorking 38

Worthing Raiders 10

Saturday 9th September 2023

Match report and photos by Colin Coulson

Game two of the season and Raiders were playing away for the second week in succession. Last week was a four hour plus journey to North Walsham, this week travelling time was about forty-five minutes to our nearest opponents in the league, Dorking.

With injuries and unavailability due to work commitments Raiders had to make seven changes to the squad that had played the previous week.

With two loose head props out injured, Fraser Bruce and Ethan Clarke, the ever-dependable Grant Gatford took the number one shirt. Harrison Sims and Tom Bowen had recovered from injuries that had kept them out of the first game. Will Rawlinson, Paddy Wood, Tom Golder and Alfie Ambrose made their league debut for Raiders and Will Sanderson completed the squad.

An open game was expected but the unseasonably high temperature, 30 degrees Celsius, would no doubt play a part in the outcome.

Raiders kicked off playing down the slope in the first half.

The first five minutes saw Raiders on the attack helped by Dorking giving away three penalties. Louis Ellis took a long shot at goal from one of these but it just passed the left-hand post from forty-five metres.

As Dorking got into their stride with ball in hand Raiders defended confidently until eventually the home side scored a converted try from a lineout near the try line, 7-0.

Possession was mainly with Dorking and so the Raiders’ defence was tested repeatedly around the pitch.

When the visitors built an attack good defence or handling errors thwarted them.

Raiders created a good chance from a scrum on the Dorking twenty-two metre line, but when the ball was fumbled the home side counter attacked and the visitors only just prevented a score at the other end.

The game was being played in very hot conditions, 30+ degrees, and so there was an official water break midway through the half and players took on water throughout at every ‘time-off’ situation.

At times Raiders made errors when they had possession and thus allowed the home side to keep them on the back foot.

With twenty-six minutes played Dorking’s pressure told and they scored a converted try to extend their lead to 14-0. At this point the visitors began to rotate players to maintain the energy levels on the pitch. Harry Alexander was the first to take a break and was replaced by Tom Golder.

After thirty minutes a penalty against Raiders resulted in Dorking scoring from the ensuing lineout, 21-0.

The final score of the half was a 50 metre penalty to Dorking which gave a score of 24-0 at the break.

Dorking had dominated set piece and possession but errors by Raiders had contributed to the situation.

Half time score: Dorking 24 Worthing Raiders 0

At half time Raiders replaced Grant Gatford and Tom Sunray and introduced Finlay Glass and Alfie Ambrose to the contest.

Dorking restarted the game after the break but the first ten minutes were all about the visitors who suddenly started to control possession and play fast, attacking rugby.

In the first minute Dorking were penalised and Raiders kicked to touch. From the lineout the ball moved to the backs and after a break by Louis Ellis, Tom Bowen was on hand to take his pass and outstrip the defenders in his run to the line to score the first try for the visitors. With the conversion missed the home side now led 24-5.

The visitors maintained their early dominance in the half, keeping the home side deep in their own territory.

Raiders scored their second try after nine minutes. Tom Bowen, now playing scrum half, made a break from the base of an attacking scrum, Tom Derrick continued the attack until he was tackled short of the line. At this point the forwards took over and Alfie Ambrose eventually got the touchdown from close quarters. Unfortunately, the conversion was missed but the gap had closed to 24-10.

With eleven minutes played Dorking scored another converted try to open the gap, 31-10.

Will Sanderson replaced Charlie Spencer at this point and as the half reached the midpoint Grant Gatford and Tom Sunray returned to the game in place of Fin Glass and Joe Knight.

The game had become a much more even contest in the second half both sides looking dangerous when in possession.

A good passage of play from the visitors created an excellent scoring chance, but as Dan Sargent charged forward his pass to Alfie Ambrose, who had the goal line in his sights, was knocked on under the pressure of the Dorking tackler.

Just short of the half hour mark Dorking scored a converted try to take the lead to an unassailable 38-10.

Throughout this half the teams had been much more evenly matched than in the first half.

The visitors continued to use their bench to maintain competitiveness in the sapping heat. Charlie Spencer and Paddy Wood replaced Tom Bowen and Jack Doorey-Palmer.

Raiders were playing well and looked capable of scoring more tries. Alfie Ambrose was having a good debut putting in some powerful charges with ball in hand.

Tom Golder was replaced by Harry Alexander who with his first involvement on his return to the game was yellow carded for a high tackle.

Raiders thus played the last seven minutes a man down but despite this they continued to match Dorking in attack and defence.

Full time score: Dorking 38 Worthing Raiders 10

A disappointing first half for Raiders who made too many errors against a good Dorking side. The second half was a much more evenly contested affair with both sides scoring two tries.

Well done to both sides for producing entertaining, fast and skilful rugby in incredibly debilitating conditions.



T: Bowen, Ambrose


Grant Gatford 2. Jack Doorey-Palmer 3. Dan Sargent 4. Jack Lake (VC) 5. Harry Alexander 6. Tom Sunray 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart 9. Charlie Spencer 10. Louis Ellis 11. Will Rawlinson 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest – Captain 14. Tom Bowen 15. Tom Derrick

Paddy Wood 17. Finlay Glass 18. Tom Golder 19. Alfie Ambrose 20. Will Sanderso