After three defeats in a row, including the Siam Cup loss, the National Two South fixture list did Guernsey a favour at on Saturday when it sent Westcliff to Footes Lane, giving Jordan Reynolds and his men the least-taxing assignment possible of the weekend.
It was a far from vintage display from the home side, but they made the most of the opportunity to give those players who needed game time plenty of it, while also resting a few who will be crucial in the more thorough examinations ahead before the Christmas break, and still ran in 10 tries in the process, winning 60-5.
There was even a surprise run out off the bench for veteran Luke Sayer, who answered a late call when winger Callum Roberts suffered a quad issue in the warm-up and treated the Garenne Stand to a few trademark runs as well as a couple of tries.
In total, the home club fielded 24 players in the game as a quartet of St Jacques Vikings regulars were loaned to the injury- and illness-stricken visitors so that the fixture could be fulfilled and it was one of those players who brought about one of the biggest cheers of the day as Joe Le Roux earned a penalty for Westcliff with strong work over the ball in the first minute, much to the delight of the watching Vikings in the stand.
However, Guernsey did not have long to wait before they opened the scoring, with Ciaran McGann, who replaced Roberts on the left wing in the starting XV, supporting Charlie Simmonds on his break down the short-side in the third minute and receiving the scrum-half’s offload for a simple run to the line.
From that touchdown for the rest of the first quarter, Raiders scored at better than a point-per-minute with Anthony Armstrong bouncing through a couple of tackles out on the right to double the lead before Ethan Smith created and scored the third with a couple of clever hack-ons as well as a good turn of pace.
McGann dotted down the fourth try in the 18th minute in the left-hand corner and Guernsey already had their bonus point in the bag.
After that, though, it was not much of a spectacle, bar the odd moment of individual skill.
Doug Horrocks barged over the line for Guernsey’s fifth and final try of the first half and Sam Steventon scored in similar style shortly after the interval.
Sayer then got the first of his two scores, picking up the pieces when two Westcliff players failed to deal with a high kick over the top, but the visitors did have something to cheer on 56min. when Edward Moss successfully reached for the line from close range on a very rare attack.
Raiders responded almost immediately through Sayer and then McGann’s explosive run helped set up Smith for his second of the afternoon, too.
Replacement scrum-half Dale Rutledge finished the rout with a fine solo effort, scooting through the gap his own dummy had created.
Fly-half Dan Rice kicked five conversions on the day.
‘To be fair, our team have a real mental weakness when we get in against lesser teams and when we play against tougher teams we seem to have the fortitude to deal with it,’ said Raiders head coach Reynolds.
‘But we still got 60 points and you’ve got to remember too that we made in total 13 changes, eight of them were guys coming back in and three came in with no game under their belt for five or six weeks, so you could see them puffing and panting out there.
‘Other teams are putting out their strongest team against Westcliff, we still managed to get 60 points by making these changes and giving some game-time so we’re fairly happy with that.
‘Credit has to go to Westcliff. I know we loaned them some players today, four in total and I thought those guys were probably the best players on the park for Westcliff, but we have been there before and they are still turning up and still playing games.
‘Yeah, we probably needed a slightly easier game and we are going back into a tougher one next week, but plenty to work on.’