Top spot comes as a surprise to Raiders

BEING top of National Two South after eight games has Jordan Reynolds doing something he hates – resorting to cliches.

Raiders centre Ethan Smith breaks away to score an intercept try against Hinckley. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30120634)
Raiders centre Ethan Smith breaks away to score an intercept try against Hinckley. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30120634)

The Guernsey director of rugby is usually original in his comments, but a seventh straight win away at Hinckley on Saturday saw his side reach the summit of the table after defeats for both Worthing and Redruth on the same afternoon and has left the coach uttering some much overused sporting phrases.

‘We are definitely not focused on where we are in the league, we are just focused on each game as it comes,’ said Reynolds yesterday, virtually admonishing himself for saying it at the same time.

‘We were on the bus heading back to Manchester Airport when we found out [we were top] and it was such a surprise for us, but we are definitely not precious about it.

‘Going into the weekend we were focused on Hinckley, then as soon as that was over and we got on the bus, the talk was about the Redruth game coming up next,’ he added.

In a highly competitive league as emphasised by the weekend’s results, Raiders keep finding a way of winning, exemplified by their 19-16 victory in Leicestershire.

They were far from their best and had to come from behind against their hosts, but tries from Ethan Smith, Tom Ceillam and Cameron Craine saw them get the job done.

‘It was not great from us,’ said Reynolds.

‘Defensively it was the poorest we have been – slipping off tackles and bunching up around rucks – but I think it was just probably a bit of a hangover from the week before.

‘Trying to get back up again after what we did against Henley is not easy and we also had two-and-a-half hours stuck in traffic on the way to the ground, so I think we can draw a line in the sand and say “let’s move forward” having managed to get the win.’

Guernsey got the boost they required during the game from an unlikely source.

‘We needed something to rile us and fortunately Hinckley gave it to us in their replacement hooker,’ Reynolds said.

‘He came on and was chirping. I believe his phrase was along the lines that our forward pack is “soft” and that was exactly what we needed to go and get the win.

‘He was our man of the match.’

Reynolds added Hinckley played precisely as he had predicted beforehand, by keeping it tight in the forwards.

‘After playing them, I can see them winning in excess of 10-12 games because when it gets wet, they will smash teams.

‘That was the biggest pack we have faced – they were monsters.

‘We are fortunate that we played them this early in the season.

‘If we are supposedly top and they are three from bottom yet there was only three points in it on the day, it shows how competitive the league is.’

Note the word ‘supposedly’ in that quote.

Reynolds was very deliberate in using that term to try to ensure expectations are not inflated despite their current position, especially ahead of welcoming third-placed Redruth to Footes Lane this coming weekend.

The Cornish outfit had won their first six fixtures before slipping to a 34-26 defeat at home to fellow promotion chasers Esher on Saturday.

Was he surprised by that result?

‘Yes and no,’ Reynolds said. ‘They have done very well and I am surprised their first defeat came at home, but I have felt when watching footage of them that they are beatable.

‘Esher took their chances well and almost gave zero respect to Redruth’s league position going there. They were 27-7 up at half-time and no-one is going to comeback from that.

‘To be fair, it is very difficult at this level to be consistent. The only team who I have seen do that in National Two was Rams, who were a juggernaut of a team.

‘We have probably been off the mark most of the time this season in terms of the whole picture – we have defended well at times and attacked well at times without really putting them together except perhaps against Henley – but we are finding a way to win.’

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