Wimbledon 55

Worthing Raiders 32

Saturday 13th April 2024

Match report and photos Colin Coulson

This week was the penultimate game of the season and Raiders travelled to Wimbledon for probably the most important match of the campaign. With Raiders in twelfth place and Wimbledon in thirteenth in the league and only seven points between them this was a must win for both teams.

With several key players unavailable, Raiders were still able to field eighteen of the squad that faced title favourites Esher the previous week. Balazs Magda returned after missing last week whilst on international duty for Hungary and Frank McMillan was making his debut in the centre.

Unfortunately, vice-captain Jack Lake had to withdraw from the team on the morning of the match due to illness. Ollie Crow moved up to second row, Tom Sunray started on the blindside and coach Luke Wallace took his place on the bench.

On a hot, windy day Wimbledon kicked off playing with the strong breeze on their backs.

Raiders made a good start controlling possession and territory but twice they lost the ball on their own ball at the lineout.

The hosts soon got into their rhythm and once they had scored their first try, the flood gates opened and Raiders had no answers as they racked up five converted tries to lead 35-0 at the interval.

It was a sorry performance from the visitors who just couldn’t find a way to get into the game. The eleven penalties they conceded in the half didn’t help.

Half time score: Wimbledon 35 Worthing Raiders 0

Raiders kicked off to start the second half and now had the wind in their favour. They made one change at the break; Frank McMillan was replaced by Pete Drummond.

The wind certainly enabled both teams to gain easy metres when playing with it behind them, and during the second half Raiders took advantage of this.

Wimbledon conceded two quick penalties which allowed Raiders to put themselves in good attacking positions.

At last, the visitors got themselves on the score sheet when after only two minutes of the half Curtis Barnes touched down wide on the left wing. Harrison Sims converted to bring the score to 35-7.

The hosts hit back quickly with an unconverted try, 40-7.

Raiders made further changes bringing first Balazs Magda and then Luke Wallace on for Fraser Bruce and Ed Grinsted respectively.

The visitors were now playing fast open rugby, realistically in search of a try bonus point rather than the win.

From a lineout ten metres from the Wimbledon line, Luke Wallace caught the ball and when he landed the defenders offered no opposition to the drive, but the tactic didn’t work and Joe Knight scored as the maul rolled over the line. With the conversion missed the score was now 40-12.

With a further four minutes played, the visitors built a promising multi-phase attack. Eventually Ollie Crow made a half break and released the ball to Curtis Barnes who had a free run in from twenty-five metres. Another missed conversion left the hosts leading 40-17.

After Raiders had scored three tries in the first twenty minutes of the half, the hosts then had a long range shot at the posts to stretch out their lead to 43-17.

Only a minute later Raiders had a scrum five metres from the Wimbledon try line and they steam rollered them back from towards their own line and Charlie Clare at the base picked up and touched down. Again, no conversion but the gap was now 43-22 and a try bonus point had been earned.

Raiders were looking like a totally different side from that which was so lack lustre in the first half.

Louis Ellis replaced Harry Forrest after twenty-three minutes of the half.

Raiders were running from everywhere playing with no fear even though whenever they made the slightest error, the hosts continued to punish them.

Wimbledon scored another unconverted try after thirty minutes to stretch the lead further, 48-22.

Constant pressure exerted by the visitors resulted in two yellow cards for the hosts.

From another Wimbledon penalty Raiders kicked to the corner and from the lineout executed a perfect catch and drive resulting in Will Gearing-Grief scoring. No conversion followed but once more Raiders were chipping away at the Wimbledon lead, 48-27.

A fine line kick from Louis Ellis gave Raiders another lineout close to the try line and once more they employed the catch and drive to bring about their sixth try of the half. This time Ben Featherstone getting the touch down. Once more the conversion was rushed and was unsuccessful, the score now 48-32.

Grant Gatford replaced Ben Featherstone for the final minutes of the game. It was the hosts who completed the scoring with a converted try right on full time. Once more punishing a mistake by Raiders as they threw caution to the wind in their attempts to close the gap.

Wimbledon winning with eight tries to Raiders’ six.

Full time score: Wimbledon 55 Worthing Raiders 32

A strange game, apart from the early minutes the home side dominated the first half. Then after the break it was the Raiders who had most of the play taking some pleasure from winning the second half by six tries to three.

Another bonus point earned which should now see Raiders safe from relegation, however they really need to win the final game of the season at home to be certain.

Thanks to the many supporters who made the journey, hopefully they all stayed to enjoy the second half.

Referee: Alex Rose


Tries: Barnes (2), Knight, Clare, Gearing-Grief, Featherstone,

Con: Sims


  1. Fraser Bruce 2. Will Gearing-Grief 3. Ben Featherstone 4. Ollie Crow 5. Ed Grinsted 6. Tom Sunray 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart 9. Charlie Clare 10. Jack Forrest – Captain 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Harrison Sims 13. Frank McMillan
  2. Harry Forrest 15. Tom Bowen


  1. Grant Gatford 17. Balazs Magda 18. Luke Wallace 19. Louis Ellis 20. Peter Drummond