Match report and photos by Colin Coulson
This week Raiders entertained Old Albanian from Hertfordshire at Roundstone Lane. Games between the two are usually very entertaining and high scoring. With Raiders in thirteenth place in the league and the visitors eighth, another tough game was expected.
With some forty players at training on Thursday there was a really upbeat atmosphere in the camp and the feeling that the tide could be about to turn.
Selection was still hampered by injury and unavailability, still in double figures, but was bolstered by the return of Curtis Barnes, Ethan Clarke and Jack Doorey-Palmer. With a two-week break coming up after this game it is hoped that more players will become available for selection for the Bury St Edmunds game fixture on 4th November.
Prior to kick off a minute’s silence was held in memory of former first team player and captain, Simon Baker.
Raiders kicked off to get the match underway and were attacking the southern end of the ground in the first half.
Within a minute they found themselves 0-5 down as the visitors scored a well-constructed try.
Despite this set back it only took another couple of minutes for Raiders to get on the scoreboard. Moving the ball at pace in the backs, stretching the Old Albanian defence they were held up a few metres short of the line, at which point the forwards took over finishing with Jack Doorey-Palmer touching down from close range. With the conversion missed the scores were tied at 5-5 after five minutes.
The game was already developing into a spectacle of fast, open rugby when only four minutes later Raiders broke up a dangerous looking attack deep in their own half. The ball found its way into the hands of returning Curtis Barnes who set off on a seventy-metre sprint to out pace the chasers and touch down for a try under the posts. Tom Derrick added the extras to give Raiders a lead of 12-5.
Raiders were dominant throughout the rest of the half. An incisive break by centre Tom Derrick took the attack into Old Albanian’s territory but as often happens in cases like this when he eventually offloaded under pressure from the visitors’ defence, the ball ended up in their hands and not Raiders. However, the break was a precursor to what was to follow.
The visitors were also playing some good multi-phase rugby. The Raiders’ defence was excellent and prevented them from capitalising on the possession they had.
Raiders built another flowing attack in the nineteenth minute, and after many phases and many metres gained it looked like another try would be scored but the final pass didn’t quite go to hand and ended in touch.
With twenty-eight minutes played the home side had a lineout on the opposition’s twenty-two metre line. Initially they went for the catch and drive but when forward momentum ceased the ball moved accurately and at pace across the back line with Peter Drummond touching down in the corner. Although the conversion was missed the lead was extended to 17-5.
It only took a couple more minutes for Raiders to score their fourth, bonus point try.
Frank Taggart burst through several attempted tackles after receiving the ball from the restart, when his progress was stopped the ball went through the hands towards the left wing, where Curtis Barnes was waiting to finish off the move sprinting in to score in the corner. Tom Derrick added the extras from the touchline to stretch the lead to 24-5.
The visitors were still trying to play a running game but the home side’s defence thwarted them repeatedly. With thirty-three minutes played Old Albanian were on the attack but being put under pressure when, in an attempt to keep the ball alive Tom Bowen found himself in possession and sprinted fifty metres to score another try for the home side. With the conversion unsuccessful the score was now 29-5.
The final try of the half for Raiders followed another breakout of defence after Old Albanian had kicked ahead. A sweeping move resulted in Curtis Barnes scoring his third try of the afternoon. Tom Derrick converted and a very impressive 36-5 lead had been established.
Old Albanian had taken quite a beating so far, but they are a quality side and in the dying moments they hit back with an unconverted try to close the gap to 36-10.
Certainly, the best forty minutes of rugby from Raiders this season and at last playing with the skill and confidence that the spectators are used to seeing.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 36 Old Albanian 10
Raiders made their first change at the break with Harry Alexander replacing Alfie Ambrose in the second row.
Old Albanian kicked off to restart the game with Raiders now attacking the northern end of the ground.
Having scored on the stroke of half time the visitors continued with a good spell of possession and scored an unconverted try to close the gap to 36-15 after eight minutes of the second half.
Ethan Clarke was replaced in the front row by Finlay Glass after twelve minutes of the half.
A well worked drive from a lineout earned the home side a penalty. This they kicked to the corner to set up another scoring chance but the attack ended with a scrum to the visitors on their own five-metre line. Raiders were awarded a free kick at the scrum. Frank Taggart tapped and went for the line, from the ruck Ben Featherstone managed to dive over the line under a pile of bodies to score his first try for Raiders. The failed conversion gave the home side a 41-15 lead.
With twenty minutes to play Tom Sunray and Harry Forrest replaced Will Gearing-Grief and Curtis Barnes.
The visitors continued to play well when in possession and scored a converted try in the twenty-third minute, 41-22.
After good defence in midfield, Raiders earned a penalty at a ruck. The kick to the corner gave them a lineout ten metres from the try line. A well-constructed catch and drive saw Jack Doorey-Palmer score his second and his side’s eighth try of the game. Again, unconverted the lead extended to 46-22.
Charlie Spencer replaced Cam Dobinson and Ben Featherstone took a well-earned rest and Ethan Clarke returned to the game.
The visitors were now playing their best rugby of the afternoon and one sixty-metre break was brilliantly chased down and tackled by Harry Forrest. However, in the last ten minutes it was Old Albanian who completed the scoring with two more tries, the second being the final play of the match.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 46 Old Albanian 36
A highly entertaining match with some outstanding tries scored.
An excellent performance by Raiders against a good Old Albanian squad. A much-needed win after several weeks on the back foot due to unavailabilities.
There were many outstanding individual performances today, Frank Taggart, Joe Knight, Jack Doorey-Palmer, Curtis Barnes and more but only one Man of the Match, and that was awarded to Ben Featherstone for his work in the scrum and forward play.
Referee: Alex Rose
Enzo’s Restaurant Man of the Match: Ben Featherstone
Tries: Doorey-Palmer (2), Barnes (3), Drummond, Bowen, Featherstone
Con: Derrick (3)
Ethan Clarke 2. Jack Doorey-Palmer 3. Ben Featherstone 4. Alfie Ambrose Dan Macadams 6. Will Gearing-Grief 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart – Capt 9. Cam Dobinson 10. Louis Ellis 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Harrison Sims 13. Tom Derrick 14. Peter Drummond 15. Tom Bowen
Fin Glass 17. Harry Alexander 18. Tom Sunray 19. Charlie Spencer 20. Harry Forrest