Match report and photos by Colin Coulson
After eight weeks of intensive pre-season training Raiders travelled to Norfolk to play North Walsham in the opening game of the new campaign.
The squad for this season comprises mostly of last season’s players plus several new signings and some returning from university.
The squad selected for this match included four of the new signings, Louis Ellis, James Maher, Harry Alexander and Finlay Glass. Nine of the twenty were ‘home grown’ Worthing boys, Leo Ravaudet making his first start for Raiders.
Both matches last season with North Walsham were well contested and this was expected to be a difficult first run out for Raiders.
On a hot, sunny, late summer’s day Raiders kicked off to set the season in motion.
The visitors were quickly into their stride controlling possession and with only three minutes played they were rewarded with their first try of the season when Jack Doorey-Palmer touched down after a catch and drive from a lineout ten metres from the home side’s line. Louis Ellis narrowly missed the conversion, 0-5.
The early score gave Raiders added confidence and they played good fifteen-man rugby, building from phase to phase. Inevitably in the first match a few handling errors and wrong decisions prevented chances being converted into points.
With only five minutes of the season played Dan Sargent received a yellow card under the new ‘high tackle laws’. Despite being a man down and with the loss of Curtis Barnes with an injury in the fifteenth minute, Raiders continued to dominate possession and territory. ( Iago Davies replaced Curtis ).
In broken play the home side showed some flashes of individual skill but Raiders’ defence responded well and they were unable to put any points on the board.
The first scrum of the season didn’t take place until the twentieth minute. It was the home side’s put in but the visitors showed them what was to come throughout the rest of the match when they shunted them back five metres.
Although no further points resulted it was pleasing to see impressive breaks from Charlie Spencer and Iago Davies. With twenty-seven minutes gone a typical break from new skipper Jack Forrest, followed by a couple of rucks ended with Will Rigelsford touching down. Louis Ellis added the extras to extend the lead to 0-12.
Within a couple of minutes, a heavy, late tackle on Louis Ellis gave the visitors a penalty in midfield. After recovering Louis put the kick deep into touch inside the North Walsham twenty-two metre area. A textbook catch and drive ensued and Jack Doorey-Palmer touched down for his second try of the afternoon. Louis Ellis converted and a comfortable 0-19 lead was established.
Ethan Clarke left the field with an injury and Harry Alexander came on to make his debut.
The home side had been under pressure throughout the half and had rarely had any meaningful time in the Raiders’ twenty-two, but shortly before half time they took their chance and scored a converted try to close the gap to 7-19.
A good first half performance from Raiders. Plenty of open, attractive and penetrative rugby but with a few minor errors here and there as might be expected in the first league game of the season.
Half time score: North Walsham 7 Worthing Raiders 19
At half time Leo Ravaudet was replaced by Tom Sunray in the back row.
North Walsham restarted the game after the break and had a good few minutes on attack. The visitors defended well and eventually earned a penalty at a ruck. The subsequent kick to touch put Raiders back in North Walsham territory and were about to produce the best try of the game so far.
From the lineout the visitors moved the ball from phase to phase across the field stretching the home side’s defence. As they got closer to the goal line the forwards created a couple of rucks before Dan Sargent dived over to round off the move. This was the fourth try and this earned the first bonus point of the season. The conversion was missed but Raiders had increased their lead to 7-24 early in the second half.
Jack Doorey-Palmer and Fraser Bruce were replaced by Finlay Glass (debut) and the ever-youthful Grant Gatford.
From the restart the home side made the mistake of not kicking the ball ten metres, thus giving the visitors a scrum on the centre spot. From the scrum Will Rigelsford sent the ball to the backs on the left side of the field and when it reached Charlie Spencer on the wing, he out-paced and eluded several attempted tacklers before scoring a fine, individual try. Louis Ellis converted from the touchline, 7-31.
Around halfway through the half North Walsham seemed to get a second wind and played some penetrating running rugby. Raiders didn’t help themselves by giving away three quick penalties but the defence was solid and eventually earned them a relieving penalty.
With the resulting lineout back in North Walsham’s territory raiders were back in control and on the search for more points.
From the lineout the pack set up a powerful driving maul before releasing the ball to the backs. When it arrived in Jack Forrest’s hands, he pinned his ears back and burst through several attempted tackles as he sprinted to the line for his first try of the season. With the conversion from Louis Ellis the lead was extended to 7-38.
The final try of the afternoon came again from a situation where North Walsham was on the attack but Raiders’ turned defence into attack with a mighty, up and under. The North Walsham defender was unable to get to the ball on the full and a kind bounce put the ball in Raiders’ hands and Jack Forrest needed no second invitation as he sped off to score his second try of the game. Louis Ellis again converted to complete the scoring at 7-45.
The final few minutes saw the home side giving it everything to try to get some more points on the board and again were aided by Raiders giving away four penalties in quick succession. The visitors’ defence held out comfortably.
Final score: North Walsham 7 Worthing Raiders 45
A good start to the season, five points on the road. Defence was very solid and attack inventive, skilful and pacey. There were errors but in a first game and with several new players settling in that was only to be expected. The only negative from the game was several injuries were picked up, hopefully not too serious.
Referee: Peter Connor
1. Ethan Clarke 2. Jack Doorey-Palmer 3. Dan Sargent 4. Jack Lake 25. Fraser Bruce 6. Leo Ravaudet 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart 9. Will Riglesford 10. Louis Ellis 11. James Maher 12. Jack Forrest – Captain 13. Tom Derrick 14. Charlie Spencer 15. Curtis Barnes
16. Grant Gatford 17. Harry Alexander 18. Finlay Glass 19. Iago Davies 20. Tom Sunray