Worthing Raiders 71

North Walsham 19

Saturday 27th April 2024

Match report and photos Colin Coulson

The season’s final match saw Raiders at home to North Walsham. With the visitors already relegated and the hosts ending an inconsistent campaign in the lower reaches of the league neither side had any pressure on them and so a typical end of season game with plenty of open play and lots of tries was anticipated.

Raiders made four changes from the side that played at Wimbledon in the previous match. Jack Lake, Cam Dobinson, Caleb Ashworth and Charlie Spencer all returned to the squad.

In this fixture Harrison sims reached the milestone of one hundred league appearances for Raiders and vice-captain, Jack Lake was playing his one hundredth and seventy fifth game.

Rain was threatened for the afternoon but the game started in dry conditions and it didn’t turn wet until half time.

A crowd of nearly five hundred and fifty had turned up to enjoy the final match of the 2023/24 season.

The visitors kicked off with the hosts attacking the southern end of the ground in the first half.

Raiders were quickly into their stride, handling with confidence and going through the phases. A half break by Cam Dobinson and a neat offload to Ollie crow created the first try of the afternoon. The conversion was unsuccessful but with barely two minutes played Raiders had the lead at 5-0.

Although the visitors had limited possession in the early stages, with what they did have they demonstrated their ability to play expansively and looked dangerous when they did.

After twelve minutes had elapsed Raiders had spent almost all of the time in North Walsham’s territory and in fact had given up a couple of good scoring chances.

On one occasion a powerful break by Frank Taggart enabled him to release Curtis Barnes on the left wing. The visitors’ cover defence was sound and they forced the ball carrier into touch ten metres short of their try line. On another Raiders gave away a penalty when they had a scrum on the visitors’ five metre line.

With thirteen minutes played North Walsham, keen to run the ball from all parts of the field, attempted to spread the ball wide deep in their own half. In recent games Raiders have been guilty of giving up ‘intercept tries’, but on this occasion with roles reversed, it was Jack Forrest who read their play and timed his interception to perfection to sprint in unopposed. Louis Ellis converted and a 12-0 buffer had been established.

Approaching the end of the first quarter, the visitors were on the attack within ten metres of Raiders’ try line when Harrison Sims intercepted the ball and made a dash to the halfway line before being brought to ground. The hosts maintained possession and moved the ball through a couple more phases before Curtis Barnes touched down, with Louis Ellis again adding the extras to stretch the lead to 19-0.

Raiders followed this up with a length of the field attack involving Jack Forrest and Curtis Barnes. This ended with a penalty to the hosts who were thus able to maintain the pressure on the opposition.

The home team scored again after nineteen minutes when they stole the ball from North Walsham in a tackle. Ollie Crowe ran the ball in for his second try of the afternoon. Louis Ellis was again successful with the kick to extend the lead to 26-0.

Jack Lake received a yellow card for a tip tackle in the twenty-fifth minute.

The home side were clearly dominant during the first half and although North Walsham attempted to counterattack whenever they had the ball the hosts’ defence was sound and snuffed out any potential threats.

The final score of the half came after Frank McMillan had made an aggressive burst up the right wing, when he was stopped the ball was recycled and moved across the field. Ollie Crow made a break and fed the ball to Frank Taggart who made a surging run at the defenders before turning a pass back inside to Cam Dobinson who finished the move off by diving in to score the fifth try of the half. Louis Ellis converted and the lead was now 33-0.

At this time the hosts began rotating players from the bench. Caleb Ashworth and Balazs Magda replaced Fraser Bruce and Ben Featherstone in the front row.

Half time arrived with the unusual situation of Raiders taking a big lead into the break.

Half time score: Worthing Raiders 33 North Walsham 0

At half time it began to rain quite heavily but this did not detract from a flowing second half in which a further nine tries were scored.

Raiders kicked off now attacking the northern end of the ground and within four minutes had scored another try. This time it was Harrison Sims who scythed his way through the defence at pace to touch down after more expansive build up play. The conversion was missed but the lead had now extended to 38-0.

It didn’t take long before Frank McMillan got on the score sheet, rounding off another good handling move. Louis Ellis converted and the lead grew to 45-0.

Ollie Crow and Joe Knight took a rest on the bench and Tom Sunray and Ben Featherstone replaced them.

To their credit North Walsham continued to play good rugby and were rewarded with an unconverted try to open their account, 45-5.

Frank McMillan and Tom Bowen were replaced by Harry Forrest and Charlie Spencer at this stage.

Further evidence of the potential of the young North Walsham team was there to be seen and within minutes they notched up a converted try to close the gap to 45-12.

Halfway through the half Fraser Bruce and Ollie Crow returned to the game and Caleb Ashworth and Balazs Magda went to the bench for a well-earned rest.

In order to re-establish control, Raiders went back to basics when they were awarded a penalty in mid-field.

Louis Ellis kicked it to touch and from the lineout they set up a driving maul and Ben Featherstone got the touchdown. Louis Ellis drop kicked the conversion as the tee was not brought on to the pitch in time, 52-12.

The visitors were still playing with plenty of spirit and in the twenty-fourth minute of the half scored their third try which was converted, 52-19.

Joe Knight returned to the game in place of Ed Grinsted.

Despite the now very wet conditions the rugby was highly entertaining for the big crowd.

With thirty minutes played, arguably the best try of the match was scored by Curtis Barnes, when he picked up a ball on his own try line and then using pace and deception proceeded to make his way through the many attempted tackles before touching down under the posts at the other end of the pitch. Louis Ellis again drop kicked the conversion as those on the bench debated whose job it was to take the kicking tee on the pitch, 59-19.

From the restart Tom Sunray collected the ball and made a powerful run back into the visitors’ half, the ball was then transferred through the hands towards the left touchline, Jack Forrest then put a perfect grubber kick beyond the defence that allowed his brother, Harry, to collect at pace and dive in at the corner. Cam Dobinson attempted the conversion but was unsuccessful, 64-19.

With a couple of minutes left to play the hosts rounded off the scoring when Fraser Bruce, finding himself in mid-field, burst through the defensive line and showed great pace to sprint forty plus metres to score. Louis completed the scoring with another conversion.

Full time score:  Worthing Raiders 71 North Walsham 19

A typical end of season game with lots of excellent, expansive rugby from both teams. Although it was eleven tries to three the visitors showed great spirit and plenty of skill throughout the match. Although relegated, with this young squad they can look forward to a much more successful campaign next season.

For Raiders a very mixed season and obviously disappointing final league position but having picked up twenty-three bonus points it shows that many of the defeats were close fought affairs. Last year they found a way to win in close games, this season they could not.

A good end to the season and nine points clear of the relegation places. Plenty of positives can be taken forward into next season when Raiders will hope to be back in the top half of the league again.

Many thanks to all those who have supported the team at home and away matches, it is greatly appreciated by the players and coaches.


Referee: Peter Buchanan

Attendance: 530

Enzo’s Man of the Match: Louis Ellis


Tries: Crow (2), J Forrest, Barnes (2), Dobinson, Sims, Featherstone, McMillan, H Forrest, Bruce

Con: Ellis (8)


  1. Fraser Bruce 2. Will Gearing-Grief 3. Ben Featherstone 4. Jack Lake 5. Ed Grinsted 6. Ollie Crow 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart 9. Cam Dobinson Louis Ellis 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest – Captain 14. Frank McMillan 15. Tom Bowen


  1. Caleb Ashworth 17. Balazs Magda 18. Tom Sunray 19. Harry Forrest 20. Charlie Spencer