Determined Buccaneers prevent the whitewash

BUCCANEERS definitely saved their best for last.

Buccaneers fullback Callum Roberts hauls down Corsairs fly-half Dan Rice. (Picture by Martin Gray,, 28937724)
Buccaneers fullback Callum Roberts hauls down Corsairs fly-half Dan Rice. (Picture by Martin Gray,, 28937724)

The third and final instalment of the Guernsey Raiders Chair's Select ‘Test’ Series was another highly competitive and, at times, feisty affair on Saturday at Footes Lane, but from a very early stage there was an obvious determination from the Luke Jones-coached side that they were not going to suffer the ignominy of being whitewashed by the Corsairs this autumn.

They started the brighter and although Malcolm Barnes’ green-and-whites got back to level pegging early in the second half, Buccs finished with a flourish to win 40-14 and at least earn the bragging rights from one of their three contests, which have brought great entertainment to local fans who must have spent the summer wondering whether they would witness any live action this season.

While the Garenne Stand faithful will likely have to wait until well into the new year before they see Raiders’ finest turnout once more, the players will no doubt be grateful of a break as the walking wounded are almost too numerous to count at the conclusion of this full-blooded triple-header.

And these guys are supposed to be clubmates, too.

On a day when he reminded everyone of his prowess from close-range, Cameron Craine got the ball rolling for Buccaneers with a fifth-minute burrowing try that was converted by Owen Thomas.

Buoyed by that good start, the men in grey did not let their opponents settle with a couple of good turnovers just when Corsairs looked set to threaten and then came the try of the game to double the lead.

It was a super passing move which started deep inside their own territory by Matt Armstrong making hard yards before the ball moved through a couple of sets of hands and reached Mitchell Smith, who set off on a barnstorming run up the centre of the pitch.

Just after he made it over halfway, Smith was caught but he had the awareness to glance back and spot Joe Andresen haring up alongside him in support and the second-row popped up a superb offload for his fly-half to collect then race untouched to the line.

Thomas’ conversion gave them a 14-point lead and Corsairs had it all to do.

Having just seen his opposite number touch down, Dan Rice took it upon himself to get his side on the front foot, which he did with a subtle dummy on his own 22 before exploiting the gap he created to get Corsairs up the pitch.

In the aftermath of that 25th minute break, Corsairs applied real pressure to the Buccs line for the first time and eventually they worked an overlap on the right from which Rice himself scored in the corner before slotting over an excellent conversion.

Just before half-time, Rice made another break which threatened to produce a similar result, but Buccaneers scrambled well to maintain a seven-point cushion going into the break.

However, they lost Courtney Raymond on the stroke of half-time to an arm injury, which, considering the physicality he had brought to the game, looked as if it could be a big blow.

Just a couple of minutes into the second half, Corsairs were level as Buccs paid the price for some indiscipline with consecutive penalties leading to Jacob Smith powering over.

After defeats in the previous two matches, Buccaneers could have let their heads drop at that stage.

Instead, they went up a gear.

Although they bombed a breakaway three-on-one chance, they edged ahead again midway through the half when a prolonged period of pressure ended with Craine rolling his way over the line.

Skipper Lewis Hillier then joined in on the act five minutes later, barging through the last-ditch tackle of Dale Rutledge to score and put his side 26-14 up after Matt Armstrong had again played a big role in the build-up.

Corsairs finished the game with 14 men after Jason Batiste was shown yellow for a high tackle on Cam Le Prevost and Buccs made their advantage count with two more tries.

Craine received the congratulations for the first of those as he and Tom Creed forced their way over with help from others.

Then, with time up, Lucas Barker took a quick tap penalty and released Owen Thomas who cantered to the line untouched before slotting over his fifth conversion of the day to round off the series.

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