Match report by Colin Coulson
On a warm, sunny afternoon after eighteen months National 2 South rugby returned to Roundstone Lane.
Our first opponents of the new season were Guernsey Raiders. Previous encounters had been hard fought close games and so on a lovely day for rugby an expansive and competitive game was expected.
The first selection of the season included many of the team that played in 2019/20 season with Ken Dowding, Will Scholes, Rhys Morgan, Jerome Rudder, Nathan Jibulu, Cam Dobinson and George Payne making their first start in the league for the Club.
Worthing kicked off attacking the southern end of the ground and Guernsey tried to run the ball out of defence, after a couple of phases they were caught in possession and penalised in front of the posts. Matt McLean opened his account for the season when he popped the penalty over. 3-0
Worthing soon had the pressure back on Guernsey as they tried to run out of defence again. Another penalty was awarded to the home side after some excellent tackling across the field. Matt McLean made no mistake from close range and extended the lead to 6-0.
At this stage Worthing had control of the game through aggressive defence and good use of the ball when in possession. Matt McLean had another penalty attempt from forty metres which just went wide.
Both teams were keen to play a running game, but a combination of good tackling and some basic errors caused the game to become a bit scrappy.
It was Worthing who managed to settle into playing some quality rugby with backs and forwards linking well.
From a scrum on Worthing’s 22 metre line the ball was moved to the left where Jack Forrest made a break down the touchline, after feeding the ball back inside it was returned to him, he handed off the last defender and scored in the corner. Matt McLean narrowly missed the conversion from the touchline. 11-0
It wasn’t long before Worthing scored again. A ball won in midfield went through several pairs of hands before an excellent final off load went to Will Scholes who romped in to score his first league try for the Club. 16-0 Matt again narrowly missed the conversion from the touchline.
Guernsey then had a few minutes with quality possession and were able to keep Worthing under plenty of pressure. However, the home side confidently saw out the half without the visitors opening their account.
Half time: Worthing Raiders 16 Guernsey Raiders 0
Guernsey restarted the game after the break and the home side were quickly on the attack, but as the backs spread the ball wide and looked as though another score was on the cards, the visitors intercepted and scored from 60 metres. The conversion was successful, and the lead was reduced to 16-7.
Within moments Worthing found themselves pinned on their own line after a well-placed kick ahead by the visitors. Several scrum penalties and resets meant Guernsey kept the pressure on until they eventually crossed the line for a converted try to close the gap further to 16-14.
Worthing made several changes of personnel during this period; Nathan Jibulu made some impressive bursts with ball in hand. All the replacements filtered into the game as the half progressed.
The home side seemed to come alive then and soon the backs effectively used the ball to get within five metres of the try line. Guernsey managed to clear the ball up field, but it quickly came back into the visitors’ 22 metre area and with a long pass from Harrison Sims the ball reached Jerome Rudder who outpaced the defence to run round and score under the posts. Matt McLean added the extras to take the score to 23-14.
The visitors were quick to get back on the attack and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts. They chose to kick for three points rather than scrummage and thus closed the gap to 23-17.
Guernsey continued to have the upper hand during this period of play, and it wasn’t long before they scored an unconverted try. The score was now 23-22.
Both sides were guilty of turning the ball over and of giving away soft penalties. Points had been scored regularly throughout the game as a result of this. Worthing were next to benefit with a penalty awarded in front of the posts. Matt McLean sent it safely between the posts to extend the lead to 26-22.
Either side looked as though they could win as the final minutes ticked away. Guernsey had counter attacked well throughout and their scrum had become stronger as the game went on.
Worthing looked capable of scoring whenever they ran the ball though the backs.
Guernsey were deep in Worthing territory and had the throw into the lineout. They set the maul and things looked ominous until Kemp Price suddenly emerged from the maul with the ball and made fifty metres down field relieving the pressure at a vital time. Worthing were then able to move the ball across the back line to Will Beer. Jack Lee then carried the ball to set the next ruck – Kieran Leeming fed a perfectly timed pass to Jack Forrest who cut a line back across the advancing defence to score the bonus point try under the posts. Matt Mclean again converted to stretch the lead to 33-22.
With little time left Guernsey were unable to score anymore points and the whistle went for full time to give the home side the victory.
Final Score: Worthing Raiders 33 Guernsey Raiders 22
Both sides had played their part in a highly entertaining it rather error strewn game. For Worthing a great start to the new season picking up five points in the league.
Well done to the new management and coaching team as well as the players who have trained so hard to be ready to play after the long layoff. It’s only the first game but there was plenty to be positive about for the future.
As always wonderful support from the crowd of over 400 who cheered the side on from kick off to final whistle.
Referee: Neil Sweeney
Proto Man of the Match: Kemp Price
Tries: Jack Forrest x 2, Will Scholes, Jerome Rudder
Cons: Matt McLean x 2
Pens: Matt McLean x 3
- Ken Dowding, 2. Henry Birch – Capt 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Jack Lee 5. Will Scholes Kemp Price 7. Jon Whittall 8. Rob Cuffe 9. Rhys Morgan 10. Kieran Leeming 11. Tom Gwyther 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Jerome Rudders 15. Matt McLean
Bench: 16. Nathan Jibulu 17. Dan Sargent 19. Cam Dobinson 20. George Payne 21. Will Beer