Centre Smith’s timely return

EXPLOSIVE centre Ethan Smith makes a welcome and timely return to the Raiders midfield tomorrow as Guernsey undertake a rejig of resources necessitated by injuries.

Ethan Smith returns to the Raiders line-up tomorrow. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30486779)
Ethan Smith returns to the Raiders line-up tomorrow. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30486779)

The decision to allow Smith an extra week of recovery time has been made to look particularly shrewd after Guernsey lost three backs during last weekend’s narrow three-point defeat to new National Two South leaders Esher and coach Jordan Reynolds called him ‘a good player to be able to bring back in’ to cope with the fresh absences for tomorrow’s home game with Barnes.

‘Ethan was training last week, did a lot of contact work on Tuesday and is well past his recovery date anyway, so he is a good replacement after losing Matt Armstrong and looks a quality 13 when we have put him in there rather than 12,’ Reynolds said.

It is now known that the younger of the Armstrong brothers did not break his ankle against Esher, but Raiders are still waiting on a scan to discover the full extent of the damage.

‘We think it could be anywhere between four-to-eight weeks, so quite a lengthy time out,’ said Reynolds, who also reported that scrum-half Charlie Simmonds has ‘a substantial tear in his hamstring’ which could keep him sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

Dan Rice, the other player to leave the field injured last weekend, had a pre-existing knee issue and it is hoped he might only be a short-term absentee.

Reynolds has opted to shift Anthony Armstrong to fullback with Michael Jamieson coming in to start on the wing.

‘It depends on what you want to get out of your fullback in that particular game,’ said the coach explaining his reasoning behind who was going to wear the No. 15 shirt against Barnes.

‘For us, it probably moves around the fact that the fullback is going to get his hands on the ball more often and Anthony is playing in a pretty destructive way at the moment, breaking a lot of tackles and on the counter-attack he is going to bring the ball back pretty hard.’

Dale Rutledge will start at scrum-half in the other change to the backline while Brad Webb is likely to return to the pack, although will have to come through a late fitness test.

And eighth-placed Raiders will need fit bodies against 10th-placed Barnes because there is rarely anything more than a score between the two sides when they meet.

‘It is always really tight and we have been really fortunate over the last 10 years or so to have more wins than losses against them, but we have had our fair share of defeats,’ Reynolds said.

‘There is normally only a try or so in it and they are a gritty side, a really tough side who are very physical and you always come off knowing you have been in a battle.

‘Barnes have got a really good away record this season – they beat Redruth in Cornwall and draw with Esher – and we know they are a side who are not going to go away, they are always going to stick to their task and are very process driven regardless of what it says on the scoreboard.

‘So we know what to expect and one of our main aims for this game is to win the collisions and hopefully we have selected a side to do that.’

Guenrsey Raiders v. Barnes kicks off at 2pm tomorrow at Footes Lane.

Guernsey Raiders team

Steventon, Ceillam, Currie, Webb, M Thomas, Baird, Dom Rice, Horrocks, Rutledge, O Thomas, Roberts, Davies, E Smith, Jamieson, A Armstrong. Replacements: Morgan, M Smith, Burger, Quate plus AN Other.

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