Worthing Raiders 33

Tonbridge Juddians 43

Saturday 25th November 2023

Match report and photos by Colin Coulson

The previous two games had resulted in narrow defeats for Raiders. In both matches they had outscored the opposition in tries but were defeated by penalty kicks.

This week Raiders were at home to mid-table Tonbridge Juddians. Despite previous results confidence was high in the home camp as they had been playing well but not getting the rub of the green. It was hoped their luck would change this week.

There are still several key players unavailable due to injury and only three changes were made to the squad that played at Sevenoaks. Skipper Jack Forrest returned along with Ed Grinsted and Finlay Glass. Grant Gatford was playing his 100th National League game.

On a dry, cold afternoon Tonbridge Juddians kicked off and had control of the game for the first ten minutes. During this period, they scored two converted tries to lead 0-14.

Raiders were quickly back in the mix as they got their running game going. Building an attack patiently they forced Tonbridge Juddians to give away a penalty deep in their own twenty-two metre area. Cam Dobinson saw the opportunity for a quick tap and before the defence could lay a hand on him, he was over the line for Raiders’ first try of the afternoon, with the conversion missed the score was 5-14 after twelve minutes.

The home side’s defence had to work hard when the visitors had possession especially when they set up driving mauls from lineout situations. The defence held firm and it was Raiders who scored next in the twenty-first minute.

Raiders were using the ball well and stretching the visitors’ defence by maintaining a high tempo. From a penalty Will Rigelsford took a quick tap and set up another attack. The visitors infringed again and received a yellow card. This time Raiders kicked to the corner for a lineout. The catch and drive they set up was held up and the ball was moved across the backs until it reached open-side flanker Joe Knight who burst through the defensive line and sprinted in to score from thirty metres. Josh Bellamy added the extras to close the gap to 12-14.

Confidence was high amongst the home side’s players and from the restart they built another attack from deep in their own territory. As they moved into the visitors’ half a stray pass was picked up by a Tonbridge Juddians’ player who ran in almost unopposed. The try was converted and the visitors now led 12-21.

So far in this half Raiders had made two simple errors and Tonbridge Juddians had scored directly from both.

This didn’t seem to dampen their efforts and within five minutes they scored their third try. Chasing a neat grubber kick towards the visitors’ goal line Tom Bowen was tackled without the ball by two defenders, the ball rolled over the line and Jack Forrest touched it down. The referee consulted the assistant referee and awarded a penalty try, but no yellow card as might be expected. The gap now reduced to 19-21 with ten minutes left in the half.

Possession and territory were pretty even and both sides were taking their chances to build their score.

With five minutes left in the half the visitors mounted another catch and drive from a lineout. As the maul progressed Ed Grinsted had his headguard ripped off and thrown into the in-goal area by a Tonbridge Juddians’ player, a clear penalty offence. The officials ignored the incident and allowed the maul to progress and Tonbridge Juddians to score another try. Not for the first time this season an example of Raiders not getting the rub of the green. 19-26

The visitors ended the half scoring again and at 19-33 things looked bleak for the home side.

Half time score: Worthing Raiders 19 Tonbridge Juddians 33

Raiders made two changes at the interval, Balazs Magda and Will Gearing-Grief were replaced by Grant Gatford and Dan Macadams.

The home side restarted the game attacking the southern end of the ground in the second half.

The kick off was short and Harrison Sims was able to compete and knock the ball back for Raiders to build a multi-phase attack. Eventually, the attack had forced the Tonbridge Juddians’ defence to become very narrow and Josh Bellamy put an accurate cross kick into the hands of the unmarked Will Rigelsford on the left wing. He touched down unopposed and Josh Bellamy converted. The lead was reduced to 26-33.

In the build up to this try Joe Knight took a knock and was replaced by Will Gearing-Grief.

With seven minutes of the half played the home side again built a patient attack with the ball going through the hands of forwards and backs, until Jack Forrest celebrated his return to the side by rounding off the move with Raiders’ fifth try. Josh Bellamy converted and the scores were level at 33-33.

The game was quite a spectacle for the neutrals in the crowd with scores coming at regular intervals at either end of the ground.

The visitors replied with a penalty try when Dan Sargent was adjudged to have pulled a maul down to prevent them scoring, he also received a yellow card, 33-40. This was followed three minutes later with Frank Taggart also getting ten minutes in the sin bin. Despite being down to thirteen men Tonbridge Juddians failed to add to their score during this period.

The game had become a bit fractious and after twenty-two minutes Tonbridge Juddians had a player red carded.

Josh Bellamy had a near fifty-metre attempt at the posts from the resulting penalty but it went wide to the left. Charlie Spencer and Louis Ellis joined the game and Cam Dobinson and Harry Forrest went to the bench.

With ten minutes left to play Tonbridge Juddians were awarded a penalty in front of the Raiders’ posts. They gladly accepted the opportunity to kick it and stretch the lead to 33-43.

Raiders came back strongly at least hoping for a second bonus point in the last few minutes.

Having won a penalty on Tonbridge Juddians’ put in at the scrum, Raiders kicked to touch, won the lineout and moved the ball to the left wing for Charlie Spencer to dive in at the corner. Unfortunately, after consulting the touch judge the referee ruled the try out deciding it had not been grounded cleanly.

This turned out to be the last meaningful chance of the game and the visitors hung on to win.

Full time score: Worthing Raiders 33 Tonbridge Juddians 43

An exciting, high scoring game earning the home side a bonus point. Raiders played with great spirit and skill against good opposition, showing they are able to compete with the best sides in the league. If they hadn’t made a couple of basic mistakes in the first half this really should have been a win for Raiders.

The team looked far more confident and less tentative than in some of the previous games.

Skipper Jack Forrest made a big impact on his return from injury and there were many other excellent performances across the squad.

If they can build on this performance and can just get the luck of the bounce here and there the winning way can’t be far away.

Referee: Conor Boyle

Attendance: 345

Enzo’s Restaurant Man of the Match: Will Rigelsford presented by Phil Harris of FRP match sponsors.


Tries: Dobinson, Knight, Penalty, Rigelsford, J Forrest

Con: Bellamy (4)


Balazs Magda 2. Jack Doorey-Palmer 3. Dan Sargent 4. Jack Lake 5. Ed Grinsted 6. Will Gearing-Grief 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart 9. Cam Dobinson 10. Josh Bellamy 11. Will Rigelsford 12. Harrison Sims 13. Harry Forrest Tom Bowen 15. Jack Forrest – Captain


Grant Gatford 17. Fin Glass 18. Dan Macadams 19. Louis Ellis 20. Charlie Spencer