Raiders recovery shot down late on

‘GO RAIDERS’ were the words of the day as the long-awaited competitive rugby returned in front of an excited crowd at Worthing Raiders Rugby Club, Guernsey Raiders’ first opponents in National Two South.

And although the first win of the new campaign went to the home team 33-22, Jordan Reynolds’ much-changed team can take some positives from a game in which they threatened to steal after being significantly adrift at the break.

The travelling side’s mistakes cost them in the end, but they have plenty to be buoyant about, the forwards looking dominant throughout and the backs showing potential, although clearly needing time to gel.

On reflection, with so little rugby over the past 18 months, both teams gave it their all and rugby was the winner.

The visitors were behind from very early on.

WATCH: WORTHING RAIDERS V GUERNSEY RAIDERS HIGHLIGHTS

After a Raiders infringement Worthing’s Matt Mclean slotted the ball over for three points and as both teams battled to take control of bragging rights Worthing were again gifted another three points for a Raiders infringement.

McLean again kicked the points.

For the travelling Raiders Owen Thomas kicked long to try and take advantage of the new laws where there is the opportunity to go for the try line with a catch and drive.

Sadly, the chance went as the throw went too long and a great opportunity was lost.

To make matters worse, Raiders’ continued infringements allowed Worthing another penalty chance, although this time McLean missed.

Raiders’ poor ball retention and offloading under pressure continued to let them down and eventually they gifted Worthing their first try.

A knock-on led to the home side running the ball out wide where they split the Raiders defensive line for Jack Forrest to glide into the corner.

McLean missed the conversion but it was now 11-0, soon to be 16.

Yet again the Raiders ball handling let themselves down and this time the home team shifted the ball out wide for Will Scholes to romp home.

As the half time whistle blew Worthing looked good for their lead and unsurprisingly a buoyant Worthing came out hard from the kick off, spinning the ball out wide only to be stung by an interception by Raiders new man Charlie Davis who had a free run in to score Guernsey’s first try of the new season.

Thomas added the conversion and the visitors were back in the game.

Guernsey then enjoyed a really good purple patch, the pack scrummaging clearly the stronger with substitute Sam Steventon shining in the arts of forward dominance. Penalty after penalty by the home pack eventually paid off for the Raiders and Owen Thomas dived in for the try line with the Worthing defence on his back.

Thomas also kicked the conversion and it was 16-14.

To their disappointment, though, straight from the kick off, Raiders’ inept handling of the restart cost them dearly.

Worthing pounced on the ball, spun it out wide only and it required Doug Horrocks to save the day with a intervention.

But the clearance allowed the home side another golden opportunity to run the ball out wide and the home winger, Jerome Rudders, handed off Armstrong in going over for the score. This time McLean slotted over in front of the posts: 23-14.

Raiders were not finished though.

They continued to dominate the game and were rewarded with a penalty, Thomas obliging for a 23-17 scoreline.

Further Raiders attacks and following and a catch and drive attack Steventon dived over the line unopposed.

Sam Steventon dives over the line. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 29954751)

Thomas missed the conversion which would have put them ahead for the first time and soon enough yet another McLean penalty for Worthing increased their score to 26-22.

The outcome was still in the balance and when Raiders were awarded their own penalty they went for the catch and drive in the Worthing 22.

A clean take by Brad Webb somehow became stolen by Worthing, who ran up the park and to safety.

Further phases of play later Jack Forrest sliced through the Raiders defence to score under the post.

McLean converted for a third time and Raiders’ brave recovery had been halted once and for all.

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