After some below par performances in recent weeks the home side were keen to kick start their season with a win at Roundstone Lane.
Each week so far Raiders have seen their injured / unavailable list grow until this week it reached thirteen first team players. Whilst this makes each game a bigger challenge it opens the door to others in the squad to make their mark in the team.
This week’s squad had six changes to the one that played at Westcombe Park the previous week. Coming into the squad were Dan Macadams (debut), Tom Sunray, Leo Ravaudet, Cam Dobinson, James Maher (home debut) and returning after retiring from rugby three years ago Harry Forrest.
Raiders kicked off attacking the southern end of the ground in the first half.
With only a couple of minutes played the home side took a 7-0 lead after Dan Macadams charged down an attempted clearing kick and Joe Knight accepted the kind bounce to score under the posts. Tom Derrick added the conversion.
Unfortunately, for the home side the visitors hit back quickly with a catch and drive try which was converted to level the score at 7-7.
Already the game was moving from end to end at great speed. Raiders using the backs, Canterbury taking advantage of penalties to bring their big pack into play.
The visitors kicked a penalty after the home side were pinged for obstruction. Thus, taking the lead 7-10.
Within five minutes Raiders were back on the attack with more expansive work from the backs.
When the ball reached the outside centre channel, Tom Derrick put a well-placed grubber through the visitors’ defensive line, Tom Bowen ran on to the bouncing ball at pace, collected it cleanly and touched down. Tom Derrick was again successful with the conversion and the home side retook the lead at 14-10. The home side extended their lead in the twenty-fifth minute with a penalty by Tom Derrick, 17-10.
With twenty-eight minutes played Canterbury replied with another penalty to close the gap.
Jack Forrest and Tom Derrick made incisive runs to put Raiders on the attack. A penalty was awarded five metres from the visitors’ try line and Frank Taggart took a tap and the forwards built the pressure, phase after phase until the ball was sent wide to the backs. When it reached Tom Bowen, he broke through the defence and scored out wide, Tom Derrick added the extras to extend the lead to 24-13.
Just before the break Canterbury scored a second converted try.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 24 Canterbury 20
Raiders had already started to use the bench in the first half, with Grant Gatford replacing Fin Glass and during the interval Leo Ravaudet replaced Tom Sunray.
A bit like last week Raiders conceded within a minute of the restart when Canterbury had a penalty in front of the posts. A successful kick closed the score to a one point gap at 24-23.
With only another three minutes the home side scored their fourth try to earn a bonus point.
After a multi-phase attack in the visitors’ half the ball eventually arrived at the hands of Pete Drummond who went outside the last defender to score try number four. Tom Derrick again converting to open the lead to eight points at 31-23.
James Maher and Louis Ellis replaced Pete Drummond and Tom Derrick. At this point Raiders were playing excellent open running rugby and constantly stretching the Canterbury defence.
When Raiders box-kicked out of defence James Maher leapt high and under pressure regained possession. From this they spun the ball at pace across the back line until it reached Tom Bowen, who shot through the first line of defence and left the Canterbury chasers in his wake as he sped forty metres to touch down. Louis Ellis converted and the lead was now looking a bit healthier for the home side at 38-23.
Raiders continued to rotate players from the bench in order to maintain the tempo of the game.
From the midpoint of the half the Canterbury pack gained the upper hand and were able to win regular penalties at the scrum. This allowed them to kick to touch deep in Raiders’ territory on more than one occasion. Despite the best efforts of the home forwards, they could not thwart the driving mauls the visitors set up from these lineouts and within a few minutes the result was turned on its head as they scored three tries, two of which were converted. The score swinging from 38-23 to Raiders to 38-42 to Canterbury.
When things are not going your way, as they weren’t for Raiders during this period, everything seems to go against you and a couple of decisions by the officials certainly fell into this category.
With the last kick of the game Canterbury extended the winning margin with a penalty.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 38 Canterbury 45
This was a much better performance from the injury hit squad. For large parts of the game, they played expansive attacking rugby and looked well on their way to claim victory. The power of the visitors’ pack was the deciding factor at the end of the day.
Five tries a piece shows how close this game was and how it could have gone either way.
A disappointing result after so much good work from the players and coaches, however the result earned Raiders two points in the league.
There were plenty of encouraging individual performances from the young and senior players to look positively to the rest of the season.
Referee: Mike Lamb
Enzo’s Italian Restaurant Man of the Match: Cam Dobinson
Tries: Knight, Bowen (3), Drummond
Con: Derrick (4), Ellis
1. Ethan Clarke 2. Will Gearing-Grief 3. Fin Glass 4. Alfie Ambrose 5. Dan Macadams 6. Tom Sunray 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart 9. Cam Dobinson 10. Jack Forrest – Captain 11. Peter Drummond 12. Harrison Sims 13. Tom Derrick 14. Harry Forrest 15. Tom Bowen
16. Paddy Wood 17. Grant Gatford 18. Leo Ravaudet 19. James Maher 20. Louis Ellis