Henley 29

Worthing Raiders 19

Saturday 9th March 2024

Match report and photos Colin Coulson

(Firstly, apologies for the brevity and lateness of the report but after the game I had to travel up to Durham and return home early this morning.)

With only six games left to the end of the season Raiders travelled to Oxfordshire to play Henley hoping to build on their success against Bury St Edmunds in the last round.

With Henley in fourth place and Raiders just outside the relegation zone in twelfth place, another tough assignment was envisaged.

Selection for this match saw four changes from the side that played Bury St Edmunds two weeks ago. Jack Doorey-Palmer returned at hooker after a lengthy injury spell and Grant Gatford, Finlay Glass and Alfie Ambrose were named on the bench.

The home side kicked off with the wind at their backs.

For the first four minutes Raiders had possession and looked as if they might draw first blood. As so often has happened this season one error, the ball gets turned over and Henley punished the visitors with a converted try to lead 7-0 after five minutes.

The hosts scored a second converted try after fourteen minutes but in the period between the two tries, Raiders looked just as likely to be the next scorers.

With the lead at 14-0 the game was evenly contested across all areas, however, as the half went on Henley started to gain an advantage in the set scrum.

Raiders played expansive rugby and created good attacking positions and chances to score. This pretty much sums up the season – creating real scoring chances but not quite being able to finish.

With thirty minutes played the hosts scored an unconverted try to extend their lead to 19-0.

As the half was drawing to its close Raiders were encamped on the Henley five metre line. The forwards drove aggressively from ruck after ruck but were unable to cross the line to turn the pressure into points. A score at this time would have been a great psychological boost for the visitors.

Half time score: Henley 19 Worthing Raiders 0

Raiders restarted the game after the break having made a couple of changes. Jack Doorey-Palmer and Ben Featherstone were replaced in the front row by Fin Glass and Will Gearing-Grief with Alfie Ambrose going to the back row.

Raiders made an even more impressive start than at the beginning of the game.

Regaining the ball from the kick off a multi-phase attack developed and for the next few minutes it looked like the visitors must score. Yet again the hosts defended well and forced Raiders to make errors at vital moments.

Just like the first half it was Henley who scored a converted try after eight minutes.

With the lead up to 26-0 and half an hour to play Raiders again found themselves playing catch-up.

From this point onwards the game was played almost exclusively, deep in Henley territory. The visitors had the bit between their teeth and played some outstanding fifteen-man rugby. Unrelenting pressure eventually brought the rewards they needed to get back in the game.

Tries by Curtis Barnes, Ben Featherstone and Harrison Sims, two of which were converted by Louis Ellis almost put a bonus point in reach. However, a Henley penalty stretched their lead from seven points to ten and with no further time left in the game the hosts won the match.

Full time score: Henley 29 Worthing Raiders 19

Raiders created enough chances to win this game and certainly played excellent rugby when their backs were to the wall at 26-0.

Sticking to plans and eliminating careless errors will be vital in next week’s home game against Sevenoaks. A game that Raiders must win.

Referee: Ben Simpson

Attendance: 236


Tries: Barnes, Featherstone, Sims

Cons: Ellis (2)


  1. Balazs Magda 2. Jack Doorey-Palmer 3. Ben Featherstone 4. Jack Lake 5. Ed Grinsted 6. Ollie Crow 7. Will Gearing-Grief 8. Frank Taggart 9. Charlie Clare 10. Jack Forrest – Captain 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Harrison Sims 13. Tom Derrick 14. Will Rawlinson 15. Tom Bowen


  1. Fin Glass 17. Grant Gatford 18. Alfie Ambrose 19. Louis Ellis 20. Peter Drummond