Worthing Raiders 17 Rochford Hundred 0
Match report by Colin Coulson. Photos Warwick Baker.
After two weeks on the road and seven well-earned points, Raiders returned to Roundstone Lane for a home fixture with promoted side Rochford Hundred.
This week saw a big change in the weather, after four games played in hot, sunny conditions today the game was played in gale force wind and torrential rain.
Raiders’ squad for the day included Makeen Alikhan and Charlie Quarren-Evans who were making their debut. The remaining eighteen members of the squad were all involved in last week’s win at Old Albanian although there were several positional changes made for this match.
Rochford Hundred won the toss and elected to play against the wind in the first half. Raiders kicked off attacking the northern end of the ground with the wind at their backs.
The game started badly for the home team when the kick-off went directly into touch and at the resulting scrum the visitors were awarded a penalty. They then spent several minutes on attack deep in Raiders’ half. It was already clear how difficult the conditions were as the ball was constantly being knocked on or dislodged in the tackle.
Rochford seemed comfortable with the conditions as they used their heavy forwards to control the ball at close quarters. Whenever Raiders made ground Rochford repeatedly kicked the ball back when they regained possession. They used this tactic successfully even though they were kicking directly into the gale force wind. The tactic worked well for them as fielding high kicks was a total lottery in the conditions.
For best part of half an hour both teams tried to find a way to overcome the conditions. Rochford relying on their pack while the home side still tried to play an expansive game with the ball being moved through hands from wing to wing. They did this remarkedly well in the conditions, but errors were inevitable.
The game was very scrappy, both sides competing with the conditions as much as the opposition.
Raiders eventually began to dominate territory and came close to a first score after Matt McLean put a low kick towards Rochford’s try line. A penalty was awarded at the ensuing ruck. A quick tap was taken but as the try was about to be scored the ball was dropped a couple of metres from the line.
The home side were dominant at this stage and repeatedly ran the ball back at the visitors with great skill.
Another chance came with a grubber kick from Matt McLean which produced a race for the touchdown, but the visitors just won the race and conceded a goal line drop out.
Rochford were guilty of giving away a lot of penalties which enabled the home side to maintain pressure.
The first try eventually came after twenty-five minutes when Will Hobson made a burst for the line. When he was tackled just short of the line Jon Whittall was on hand to dive over from a couple of metres. The Rochford scrum half was yellow carded for a technical offence at the tackle prior to the try being scored. Matt McLean successfully converted to give Raiders a 7-0 lead.
At this point the weather got even worse with the rain now horizontal. In these conditions the visitors were doing extremely well to prevent any further scores by the home side.
Just before half time another Rochford player received a yellow card. With seconds left in the half Matt McLean had a long-range penalty attempt which hit the upright and bounced back into play. Fortunately for Rochford they were able to collect it and kick it into touch to end the half.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 7 Rochford Hundred 0
Raiders had played with the benefit of the wind and had created plenty of scoring opportunities. They would have expected to have built a more substantial lead before having to play against the elements in the second half. The visitors were no doubt pleased with their efforts and would have felt they were in a strong position to exploit the conditions in the second half.
Raiders replaced Henry Birch and Jerome Rudder with Nathan Jibulu and Kieran Leeming to start the half. The visitors restarted the game now defending the southern end of the ground.
Within a minute Raiders were forced to make a change when Will Scholes was injured after falling awkwardly at a line out. Jack Lee replaced him in the second row.
The home side continued to run the ball whenever possible and constantly stretched Rochford’s defence.
With three minutes of the half gone Raiders were awarded a penalty thirty-five metres from goal. Despite the wind Matt McLean elected to kick for goal and comfortably added the three points to stretch the lead to 10-0.
After ten minutes Rhys Litterick was replaced by Ken Dowding and shortly after Cam Dobinson replaced Rhys Morgan.
In truth the threat expected from the visitors in the second half didn’t materialise and Raiders seemed to take more control of the game as it progressed.
The nearest the visitors came to scoring was a long-range penalty attempt which flew well wide of the posts.
With fifteen minutes left in the game Jerome Rudder returned to the field in place of Charlie Quarren-Evans and Rhys Litterick replaced Will Hobson.
The home side were playing controlled rugby and were able to keep the visitors pinned inside their own 22 metre area. Several more chances were created close to the goal-line and from a forward drive Makeen Alikhan reached out to touch down only to have the score overturned for a double movement.
As the clock ticked down towards eighty minutes Raiders eventually scored their second try. A well-constructed catch and drive from a lineout marched the defence back many metres before crossing the line for Nathan Jibulu to touchdown. Matt McLean concluded the scoring with an excellent conversion from wide on the left. With the lead now 17-0 the referee blew for full time.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 17 Rochford Hundred 0
This was a good win in the most difficult weather conditions imaginable. It wasn’t a day when many tries would be scored more a day to limit errors that might be made. The second half performance by the home side was very professional. Another four points earned which keep Raiders on top of the league table.
Well done to both sides for their efforts to entertain the crowd on such a terrible afternoon and to the ball boys and girls who helped keep the game flowing.
Many thanks to the 250 supporters who braved the weather to witness Raiders fourth win of the season.
Referee: Matt Sharpe
Proto Restaurant Group Man of the Match: Jack Lee
Tries: Jon Whittall, Nathan Jibulu
Cons: Matt McLean x 2
Pen: Matt McLean
1.Will Hobson, Henry Birch – Capt. 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Jack Lake 5. Will Scholes 6. Makeen Alikhan 7. Jon Whittall 8. Kemp Price 9. Rhys Morgan 10. Matt McLean 11. Jerome Rudder 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Charlie Quarren-Evans 15. Connor Slevin
- Ken Dowding 17. Nathan Jibulu 18. Jack Lee 19. Cam Dobinson 20. Kieran Leeming
9. 9. Rhys