Raiders stand firm and rise to the top with seventh win

A SEVENTH straight win has taken Raiders to the top of National Two South.

Raiders celebrate Cameron Craine's try. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30120652)
Raiders celebrate Cameron Craine's try. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30120652)

The mood in the Guernsey camp at the final whistle in Leicestershire after a 19-16 victory was one of relief, though, as stout defence at the death prevented Hinckley from reaching the try-line for a winning score.

This was a case of winning ugly for Jordan Reynolds’ side, who knew they were in a contest right from the off.

The hosts came out to attack with venom from the start.

Immediately they took the game to the Raiders, who seemed to still be travel worn.

From a scrum, the home side spun the ball wide with a break through the middle to score an unconverted try.

Poor ball retention let raiders down as they searched for a response and they missed opportunities to put pressure on the home side.

However, Hinckley also let the visitors off the hook several times in a scrappy first half, but they added to their lead with a straightforward penalty to open an eight-point lead.

Further retention problems and some poor tackling led to the introduction of Owen Thomas from the bench to settle the Guernsey down, but it was Ethan Smith who came up with the play that established Raiders in the match as he pulled off an interception try that was converted by Thomas to bring the visitors back within a point of the hosts.

By half-time, though, Hinckley had added another try of their own and led 13-7 at the break.

Raiders’ task got tougher soon after the restart when Thomas was sin-binned for a high tackle, but Hinckley failed to make him pay the full price as the subsequent penalty attempt sailed wide.

Guernsey then started to get their act together and opted for the aerial route of attack.

It paid dividends when a Hinckley player was adjudged to have taken Matt Armstrong out in the air, much to the chagrin of the home fans, and Guernsey went for a catch-and-drive which eventually led to Tom Ceillam scrambling his way over the line.

The conversion was missed, leaving Guernsey with a one point deficit that then became four when Hinckley kicked a penalty.

But Raiders were now looking sharper and forcing errors from the home side as well as penalties.

Eventually a rolling maul sent Cameron Craine over the line under a pile of teammates to give Guernsey the lead for the first time, with Thomas adding the extras – 16-19.

With time running out, Raiders conceded another penalty to Hinckley, who turned down the chance to level the scores with a kick for goal and instead they went for a try.

However, Guernsey defended the attack well and a home player eventually knocked on to give Raiders the win.

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