Promising signs in opening day defeat

‘IT’S learning on the go’ was Jordan Reynolds’ philosophical assessment of Guernsey’s opening day defeat on their return to National Two South.

Raiders lost 33-22 away to Worthing, but produced a sterling second-half fightback having found themselves trailing 16-0 at half-time.

They even got back to within a point with around 12 minutes remaining, which gave them plenty of cause for optimism for the rest of the season after being without competitive rugby for 18 months.

‘It’s a tough one because obviously we have pretty mixed feelings afterwards,’ Reynolds said.

‘The one that resonates most is probably disappointment, just with the way we started and that we lost, but at half-time we changed tactics and that got us back into the game.

‘The fact that we were 16 points down going into the second half then for us to find a way to get back into the game was really promising so at the end, I was definitely not blowing a gasket or anything like that.

‘We got what we deserved because we just made too many crucial mistakes such as turning over possession too easily doing silly things like going into contact then losing the ball when trying to place it.

‘But people were not making mistakes on purpose, if anything they were almost over-trying. A lot of these mistakes are more mental rather than to do with ability and we will try to address that this week and find improvement.

‘If we reduce our mistakes, we will win games – we are not miles away, but at the moment we are too far for it to be a quick fix.’

Reynolds did not want to single out individuals for what he called ‘some OK performance in dribs and drabs’, but in the circumstances he did give a nod to the three props.

‘Jacob Pinkney did a full 80 minutes at tighthead, which is a tall ask, and our scrum was strong on the day. He also had a pretty good carrying game too,’ the coach said.

‘Sam Steventon is coming back from a hamstring strain so we need to try and manage him best as possible so the idea was to give him 40 minutes and Darrin [Bellingham] did well for the 40 minutes he had.’

Steventon scored the third of Guernsey’s three tries, with Charlie Davies touching down on debut following an intercept while Owen Thomas got the other.

Charlie Davies scores on his Guernsey debut. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 29954739)

Reynolds reported that the performances of newcomers largely mirrored that of the team.

‘It was a bit of a mixed bag, but what we have identified again is the mental aspect of it.

‘These are all quality players and you could see them do some fantastic things then some silly errors creep in, but you have to take in account they are in a new team, a new set-up, and sometimes they were just overplaying their hand.

‘We need to settle the ship more and give them a bit more direction, and that comes from us as coaches as well as those on the field. The more they play together, the more confident they will get.’

As for Worthing, Reynolds predicts they should be a top-half side this season.

‘They were definitely better than the last time we played them and although we were on top in the scrum, generally they were physical around the park, their line-out functioned well and they have a very good backline.

‘They went from first gear to fourth within the first minute of the game whereas we just got up to about second gear by half-time. We never really got out of that, but we almost got something out of the game.

‘We have got multiple things to improve, but if we are almost winning away from home having played like that, it shows where we can be once we have addressed those things.’

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