Guernsey 21 Worthing Raiders 52
Saturday 30th April 2022
Match report Colin Coulson, photos Andy Wales
After a great season of National Two South rugby this week we reached game 30, the final match.
As luck would have it Raiders were on the road, well in the air, and off for an end of season weekend on the island of Guernsey. With many of their faithful supporters joining the squad to enjoy the final match and end of term outing.
Selection was difficult due to Ken Dowding and Jerome Rudder both being involved in the annual Army v Navy match. Rhys Litterick, Nathan Jibulu, Cassius Cleaves and Josh Tusler were all involved in a Harlequins U23 match. On top of this, late season injuries and unavailabilities created a few headaches for the coaches. Despite this the squad still had quality players in all positions all aiming to end the season on a winning note. Fraser Bruce, Liam Perkins and Curtis Barnes returned to the squad and Grant Gatford was selected for his first game of the campaign.
On the same day Raiders 2nd XV, already Champions of the Surrey Premiership, were involved in a cup final against Battersea Ironsides and because of this, the late withdrawal of one of the squad, on Friday, meant that the coaches felt it unfair to disrupt the second team squad and so Raiders travelled with only four replacements on the bench.
The home side kicked off and they had the better of the initial exchanges but it didn’t take long for the visitors to get into their stride.
After a well-executed catch and drive, several phases of play resulted in a scrum to Raiders close to the Guernsey try line. Frank Taggart picked up from the base and drove for the line, when he was stopped the ball was quickly recycled and Harrison Sims side stepped a couple of defenders to score the first try of the afternoon. Matt McLean hit the post with the conversion but it was the visitors with the early advantage at 0-5.
It was only three minutes later when Curtis Barnes was released on the wing, he chipped ahead and the ball bounced kindly for Matt McLean who scored and converted his own try to extend the lead to 0-12.
Raiders were keen to play a fast, open game and when a free kick was awarded, Frank Taggart took a quick tap to maintain the tempo of the play. After several phases the visitors were thwarted close to the try line but the game plan was certainly keeping the home team on the back foot.
After seventeen minutes Will Beer ran the ball out of defence creating another dynamic attack which almost brought about a third try.
Harrison Sims playing his first game at full back was demonstrating great skill under the high ball and was relishing the extra space to run at the opposition.
With twenty-four minutes played a period of sustained pressure by Raiders saw backs and forwards linking to move the ball accurately and at pace until Jack Forrest finished off the move romping in to score close to the posts. Matt McLean added the extras to take the lead to 0-19.
As the game reached the half hour mark the visitors were dominating possession and territory. The fourth and bonus point try was soon achieved after some outstanding multi-phase, pacey rugby resulting in a neat final off-load to Curtis Barnes to touch down and give Matt McLean another simple conversion. The lead now extended to 0-26.
The Guernsey team began to show that they too could play with pace and flair and produced a converted try in the thirty-sixth minute to reduce the arrears to 7-26.
In the dying moments of the half they came close to achieving a second score but the Raiders’ defence managed to keep them at bay until the referee brought proceedings to a halt for the half time break.
Half time score: Guernsey 7 Worthing Raiders 26
The home side had looked dangerous when in possession and Raiders expected them to make a fast start to the second half but with only a minute played it was the visitors who scored another converted try. From a scrum Frank Taggart broke from the base before linking up with Kemp Price who fed the ball to Elliott Quinton who brushed aside several tacklers to score the first try of the second half. Matt McLean converted and the lead extended to 7-33.
During the second half the Raiders’ coaches wisely rotated players from the bench in order to maintain their high powered, running game. This included Grant Gatford making his first appearance of the season and Jon Whittall making his final appearance before retiring.
However, Guernsey continued to look dangerous when in possession and after fifty minutes they were rewarded with a second converted try to close the gap to 14-33.
Raiders however continued to play high octane rugby that entertained the spectators and constantly stretched the Guernsey defence. Powerful breaks by Liam Perkins and Harrison Sims almost created further scores but for good last-ditch defence by the home side.
By the time the game moved into the final quarter it had become very loose with both sides running everything from everywhere on the pitch. Both sides made errors but both continued to play in an extravagant manner.
With little more than ten minutes to play another snaking run from Will Beer allowed another attack to develop resulting in a try for Harrison Sims. With Matt McLean’s conversion the visitors now had a lead of 14-40.
Guernsey were once more rewarded for their efforts with a third converted try reducing the visitors’ lead to 21-40.
The speed and quality of play was quite breath-taking and after seventy-three minutes Will Beer again made a break which led to Jack Forrest chipping ahead and regaining possession before passing to Matt McLean to score. With the conversion missed Raiders had a lead of 21-45 with a few minutes left on the clock.
The crowning moment of the game came in the seventy-eighth minute, when after more exhilarating handling by Raiders, Jon Whittall romped in to score the final try of the day in his last ever game. Matt McLean converted and the lead was now 21-52.
With barely time for the game to restart the whistle went for full time.
Full time score: Guernsey 21 Worthing Raiders 52
A great spectacle of a game with so many outstanding tries scored. A fine way to end a successful season for Raiders with the promise of more quality rugby to be played next year.
For all those supporters who had travelled to the island this match was a great way to repay their loyalty with an excellent display of how rugby should be played.
The coaches and squad would like to thank all those who have supported them in great numbers throughout the season creating a great atmosphere at every home match and especially to that band of supporters who have regularly travelled all over the South of England to cheer the team from Cornwall to Suffolk and all points in between. Thank you.
Tries: Sims (2), McLean (2), Forrest, Barnes, Quinton, Whittall
Cons: McLean x 6
- Fraser Bruce 2. Elliott Luke 3. Dan Sargent 4. Jack Lake 5. Liam Perkins 6. Kemp Price – Captain 7. Elliott Quinton 8. Frank Taggart 9. Kieran Leeming 10. Matt McLean 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Tom Gwyther 13. Jack Forrest 14. Will Beer 15. Harrison Sims
- Max Ravaudet 17. Grant Gatford 19. Charlie Spencer 20. Jon Whittall