Henley Hawks 43 Worthing Raiders 26

Saturday 13th November 2021

Match report Colin Coulson, photos Andy Wales 

After last Saturday’s ‘rest day’, Raiders travelled to Henley for game ten of the season.

Selection for this match showed more changes to the squad than in previous weeks. Levi Davis and Elliott Quinton were making their league debut for the club. Elliott Luke was making his first appearance after re-joining the club, Tom Gwyther was returning after a lengthy absence through injury. Will Beer, Dan Sargent, Kieran Leeming and Joe Spurgeon were also back in the squad.

Henley kicked off and were on the attack straight away. With only two minutes played Cam Dobinson put up a box kick only to see the home side run the ball back, splitting the defence to score a converted try, 7-0.

It didn’t take Henley long to notch up a second converted try. This was similar to the first in that it came from a Raiders’ kick out of defence that gave Henley the chance to run back at a slowly reforming defensive line. 14-0 after nine minutes.

By the time we reached sixteen minutes Henley had their third converted try to lead by 21-0.

Raiders made a woeful start to the game with the usually sound defence ‘all at sea’. Missed first up tackles and simple errors were making life difficult for the visitors.

Eventually Raiders managed to string some phases together and began to look as if they could get back into the game.

The visitors scored their first try after twenty minutes from a well-constructed catch and drive, with Ken Dowding getting the touchdown. Matt McLean converted from the touchline 21-7.

Raiders were able to maintain the pressure on the Henley defence and after twenty-four minutes scored another textbook catch and drive try, this time Henry Birch touched down. Matt McLean converted, 21-14.

At this point hopes were high amongst the travelling supporters that Raiders could turn around the early twenty-one point lead the home side had built up. Hopes were dashed when in the twenty-eighth minute the home side scored an unconverted try to open up the lead to 26-14.

After thirty-five minutes Jack Lake replaced Joe Spurgeon.

Raiders settled into playing some good attacking rugby twice creating chances that just needed the final pass to get the score but on both occasions the pass wasn’t made. As half time arrived Raiders were still in the game, just.

Half time score: Henley Hawks 26 Worthing Raiders 14

Elliott Luke replaced Henry Birch and Will Beer replaced Tom Gwyther at the start of the second half.

Raiders kicked off and the game was very open with both sides finding space with ball in hand.

With only two minutes of the half gone the visitors attacked from deep in their own territory, the ball was then kicked ahead, and Levi Davis comfortably outpaced the defence to touch down. The conversion was missed but the gap had closed to 26-19.

Only a few minutes later Henley’s box kick clearance was taken magnificently by Harrison Sims, and from this point Raiders were able to build the pressure on the home defence.

Raiders had a lineout on the Henley twenty-two metre line and the catch and drive that followed moved them to within a few metres of the goal line. From here the visitors’ forwards pounded the home defence and after many attempts eventually Jack Lee burst through the tacklers and scored Raiders’ fourth and bonus point try. Matt McLean converted and with thirty minutes to play the game was level at 26-26.

Henry Birch returned to the front row in place of Ken Dowding. It looked as if Raiders were more confident and that they had got their game in order, they appeared at this point to be capable of winning at a canter, but it was not to be.

Elliott Quinton received a yellow card midway through the half for an infringement at the ruck. Henley were quick to capitalise with a converted try from a catch and drive. The lead back to the home side at 33-26.

Dan Sargent replaced Rhys Litterick with twenty minutes to go. Cam Dobinson and Rhys Morgan had both had spells at scrum half but with ten minutes left in the game, Rhys moved to full back, Matt McLean to stand off and Kieran Leeming went to the bench.

Raiders then had a penalty shot at the posts, but it narrowly missed. This was shortly followed by Henley kicking a penalty at the other end to extend their lead to 36-26.

Kemp Price was replaced by Joe Spurgeon for the final few minutes. With Raiders throwing everything into the attack in an attempt to get a second bonus point but it was Henley that had the final say with another converted try.

Full time score: Henley Hawks 43 Worthing Raiders 26

This was not a good performance by Raiders even though they had created enough chances to actually win the game. However, you cannot give a side like Henley a twenty-one-point lead in the first fifteen minutes and expect to win. Individual errors rather than team errors had been a major factor in the defeat. Back to Roundstone Lane next Saturday when we hope to see Raiders bounce back.

Thanks, as always to our travelling supporters.

Referee: Matt Sharpe

Scorers:

Tries: Dowding, Birch, Davis, Lee

Cons: Matt McLean x 3

Team:

  1. Ken Dowding 2. Henry Birch – Capt. 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Jack Lee 5. Will Scholes 6. Joe Spurgeon 7. Elliott Quinton 8. Kemp Price       9. Cam Dobinson 10. Kieran Leeming 11. Tom Gwyther 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Levi Davis 15. Matt McLean

Bench:

  1. Elliott Luke 17. Dan Sargent 18. Jack Lake 19. Rhys Morgan 20. Will Beer