Raiders fightback falls just short

RAIDERS came close to pulling off an amazing second-half comeback on Saturday but were unable to prevent Esher from going top of National Two South.

Anthony Armstrong scores one of his three tries at Esher on Saturday. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30469797)
Anthony Armstrong scores one of his three tries at Esher on Saturday. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30469797)

Anthony Armstrong scored a hat-trick of tries for Guernsey as they came from 20-5 down at the interval to take the lead at one point before going down 27-24 to the new league leaders on a day when the visitors had to cope with numerous injuries to an already understrength side.

Playing with the wind, Esher got off to a strong start with a penalty form Sam Marley giving them the lead before they were awarded a penalty try when Dan Rice was shown a yellow card for not retreating 10m before making a tackle from a quick tap-and-go.

Armstrong halved the deficit with an intercept try before Marley added another penalty for the hosts and then Raiders lost Rice and Matt Armstrong to knee and ankle injuries respectively.

Just as the first half was coming to an end, Marley scored and converted a try to extend the lead to 15 points.

Esher exerted more pressure on Raiders at the start of the second half, but the visitors soaked it up and then got on the front foot themselves with Armstrong scoring his second try to make it 20-10.

Tom Ceillam made a crucial try-saving tackle to keep Guernsey in the game and soon a good team move sent Armstrong in for his third try of the day, which was converted by Charlie Davies to bring Raiders within three.

The injury jinx then struck again with Charlie Simmonds going off with a hamstring problem but Raiders stuck to their gameplan of running the ball whenever possible and it paid off when they edged ahead thanks to a Callum Roberts try with Davies adding the extras again to put the visitors 24-20 ahead.

Esher responded to going behind for the first time by completely changing tactics and after kicking a penalty to touch, a catch-and-drive maul made its way towards the line before it was illegally brought down resulting in another penalty try with Sam Steventon issued a yellow card.

Having regained the lead, Esher were able to see out the game but Raiders coach Jordan Reynolds was delighted with the spirited performance from his team which earned two bonus points.

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