Match report and photos Colin Coulson
With eight games left in the season Raiders remain in a tight battle at the wrong end of the league and this week saw twelfth placed Raiders at home to eleventh placed Guernsey.
For the first time this season the starting fifteen that was selected was the same as played the previous week. Three changes were made on the bench with Grant Gatford, Charlie Spencer and on debut Ollie Crow replacing Ethan Clarke, Caleb Ashworth and Charlie Clare.
After a very wet midweek the pitch had dried out remarkedly well and on a mild afternoon a fast-handling game was expected between these two sides.
Guernsey kicked off defending the southern end of the ground.
The home side started well and took the lead after eight minutes had been played. Raiders earned a penalty at a scrum with the ensuing touch kick giving them a line out deep in Guernsey territory. From the lineout the home side used the forwards to batter away at the visitors’ defence close to the try line, with the visitors preventing the forwards from crossing the line the ball was moved wider and Harrison Sims burst through and as he was tackled stretched out to touch down under the posts. Tom Derrick added the extras and a comforting 7-0 lead was established.
Shortly after the visitors missed a chance to close the gap when they had a penalty shot at goal which went wide.
With eighteen minutes played the home side were awarded another penalty at a scrum and the touch kick gave them a lineout on Guernsey’s twenty-two-metre line. From the lineout the ball moved into centre field where flanker, Joe Knight took the ball into contact at pace, bursting through the first attempted tackles, he continued on his way towards the try line brushing off several more tacklers before touching down. Tom Derrick was again successful with the conversion and the lead stretched to 14-0.
Guernsey continued to attack with power and pace when in possession and eight minutes later scored a converted try to close the gap to 14-7.
The home side were, for the most part defending well and attacking with confidence.
The visitors conceded a penalty in centre field after some probing play by the home side. Another good touch finder put them within striking distance at the lineout that followed. This time they employed the catch and drive and successfully drove their way to the try line for Will Gearing-Grief to get the touchdown. Tom Derrick converted from wide out on the left to extend the lead to 21-7.
As the game moved closer to half time it was Raiders who were on the attack again deep in the visitors’ half. With the ball being moved through the hands at pace a defender appeared to be guilty of a deliberate knock on, however, nothing was given and the referee brought the half to a close.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 21 Guernsey Raiders 7
At half time the hosts started to make changes from the bench, the first was Balazs Magda coming on for Ben Featherstone in the front row.
Raiders restarted the game after the break, now attacking the northern end of the ground.
The visitors made the better start to the half and scored a converted try after only four minutes, closing the gap to 21-14.
Not to be put off the home side soon mounted a meaningful attack deep in Guernsey territory only to see them break out and almost score at the other end. Tom Bowen was responsible for saving the day using his pace to race back and pick up the ball a few metres from the home side’s try line. He then set off beating the first couple of attempted tackles but after his exertions in getting the ball back to recover the situation he opted for a good touch kick as he realised another seventy-metre sprint was not possible.
The game was evenly balanced, both sides looking dangerous when in possession and both having the players to score from anywhere on the pitch.
Cam Dobinson replaced Harry Forrest with Will Rigelsford moving to the wing and Dan Macadams was replaced by Ollie Crow for his debut appearance.
The visitors were able to keep the home side pinned in their own half for a lengthy period of time and this resulted in them drawing level after sixteen minutes with a converted try, 21-21.
During this period of the game Raiders were defending soundly but were repeatedly put under pressure as their exit strategy was ineffective.
Inevitably it seemed, that after all the pressure Guernsey eventually scored another converted try to take the lead for the first time in the match, 21-28.
Raiders made more changes, Ben Featherstone, Harry Forrest and Dan Macadams all returning in place of Fraser Bruce, Will Rawlinson and Ed Grinsted. Charlie Spencer also replaced Louis Ellis in the latter stages.
The home side created good field positions but couldn’t turn them into points.
Ollie Crow received a yellow card and Raiders had to play the rest of the game with fourteen men.
Guernsey stretched their lead to 21-31 with a penalty after thirty-six minutes and moments later missed another shot at the posts which allowed Raiders to attack from their own line. Tom Bowen led the charge out of defence, a nicely timed pass to Tom Derrick on the right touchline saw him sprint outside the defender and pass infield to Charlie Spencer, who carried the attack into Guernsey’s half. His pass to Cam Dobinson left Cam with a forty-metre foot race to the line, which he just won to get the try. Tom Derrick again converted to close the score to 28-31. The visitors received a yellow card for the tackle on Charlie Spencer.
This was the last play of the game and the referee blew for full time.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 28 Guernsey Raiders 31
Yet another close game for Raiders, this time with two bonus points earned.
Plenty of positives to take from the game and still some areas to work on before next week’s trip to Old Albanian.
Thanks to the four hundred plus crowd for the great support they gave the squad.
Referee: Alex Powdrell
Enzo’s Italian Restaurant Man of the Match – Joe Knight
Tries: Sims, Knight, Gearing-Grief, Dobinson
Con: Derrick (4)
1. Fraser Bruce 2. Will Gearing-Grief 3. Ben Featherstone 4. Jack Lake – Captain 5. Dan Macadams 6. Ed Grinsted 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart 9. Will Rigelsford 10. Louis Ellis 11. Harry Forrest 12. Harrison Sims 13. Tom Derrick 14. Will Rawlinson 15. Tom Bowen
16. Grant Gatford 17. Balazs Magda 18. Oliver Crow 19. Cam Dobinson 20. Charlie Spencer