Rusty Raiders will be fuelled by frustration

RAIDERS have their fingers, toes and everything else crossed that it will be third time lucky tomorrow.

Raiders scrum-half Charlie Simmonds on the break against Dings when the two sides met earlier this season. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30384999)
Raiders scrum-half Charlie Simmonds on the break against Dings when the two sides met earlier this season. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30384999)

Guernsey’s last two home games have fallen foul of Covid and been postponed, meaning that when Dings visit Footes Lane this weekend it will be the first time the hosts have run out in front of the Garenne Stand faithful since 4 December.

Jordan Reynolds, who said he was ‘annoyed’ when last week’s match with Rochford Hundred was called off at the 11th hour, revealed yesterday that he has seen signs in his players that their fuse is getting short too.

‘It cannot be easy for the group,’ said the Raiders director of rugby.

‘You could see their frustration last week when we were telling them that Rochford would not be coming. These guys just want to play rugby and it does become a little disheartening getting games called off.

‘They were pretty physical in our training session on Tuesday. They are wanting to get into a game, but in all honesty I think they are dealing with it all pretty well.

‘The frustration is just fuelling us at the moment. It could be a good thing this weekend.

‘We know we are going to be missing a little bit of match fitness, but there’s also a huge amount of excitement. The focus is fully on 2pm Saturday.’

One particularly surprising result in the game that went ahead last week saw Barnes pull off an outstanding 17-14 win at title contenders Redruth, which saw Raiders slip a place in the National Two South table to ninth.

Dings are just one place below, having come close to causing an upset of their own last week when they finished within a score of second-placed Esher.

‘I don’t think our league position can be centred on now because we are three games behind everyone,’ Reynolds said.

‘Any other time, if we had missed three games, you would expect teams to be overtaking you, but we’re still ninth and it shows everyone is beating everyone and that it’s really close, which is good for the competition.’

He certainly expects tomorrow’s encounter to be tight, too, but also entertaining.

The first time the two sides met this season, Guernsey edged a thriller 34-31.

‘When we played Dings there, it was a fast flowing game in good weather and we managed to sneak it in the end in a pretty high-scoring game. I think it could be the same again this weekend,’ said Reynolds.

‘We were hoping the sun was going to come out as I think it will suit us because we want to try and get the ball out wide if we can.

‘Our supporters have not seen a game in a long time either, so let’s get some sunshine and throw the ball around. We are averaging high numbers at the ground despite everything going on [with Covid] and people are just as keen to watch as we are to play.

‘Last week we wanted to play and we had a good plan set for that, so it was disappointing the game did not go ahead.

‘We have done the same thing this week in that we have got a good plan, we have trained well and it is just exciting to play again.’

Raiders v Dings Crusaders kicks off at 2pm on Saturday at Footes Lane.

Raiders team: Steventon, Ceillam, Currie, Hillier, M Thomas, Baird, Dom Rice, Horrocks, Simmonds, O Thomas, Roberts, McGann, M Armstrong, A Armstrong, Andresen. Replacements: Morgan, Pinkney, Culverhouse, Dan Rice, Davies.

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