‘Guernsey need to step up a level when leaders visit’

RAIDERS will have to raise their game substantially when National Two South leaders Esher come to Footes Lane this week.

Try-scorer Dan Morgan carrying for Raiders at Westcliff. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30657359)
Try-scorer Dan Morgan carrying for Raiders at Westcliff. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 30657359)

That is the verdict of Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds, whose side returned to winning ways at Westcliff on Saturday but ended up beating the second-from-bottom side by just a single point, 27-26.

Dan Morgan was among the try-scorers as he touched down from a couple of mauls while Ethan Smith and Anthony Armstrong also chipped in.

While Reynolds revealed that he did not feel the game was in the balance, with Raiders always ahead, he admitted that ‘it was a pretty lacklustre performance from us again’.

‘You could give all the excuses in the world, but the fact is that it was below the standard that we want,’ he said.

‘I thought we did some good stuff and seemed to attack well at times, we were just missing those last passes. If they had stuck, the scoreline could have been a lot more, so we were still creating opportunities and just looking at the first half alone we probably left another four or five tries out there.

‘But what we need to take from the weekend was how easy it was for Westcliff to score some of their tries and how easily we switched off.

‘If we were to win 27-5, we would probably be pretty happy knowing the defensive efforts were there, but I think there’s just some complacency from our guys at the moment as a whole squad.’

Westcliff had a much changed line-up from that which lost 60-5 at Footes Lane in November and showed they are a more capable side than their league position might suggest.

‘They worked hard and I’m sure they would have been pretty disappointed at the end of the game,’ Reynolds said.

‘Westcliff were up for a tough game, they beat Old Albanian a couple of weeks ago and I think there’s still a chance they will turn over a couple more teams this season.’

Despite the creditable showing from Westcliff, though, Reynolds emphasised that the challenge Esher will pose Guernsey next up will be far greater and his side must be ready for it.

‘It does not matter where a team is in the table ... if we are going to sit here and use excuses like “Westcliff are only second bottom” then that’s a real shame.

‘Our squad has grown a lot over the season and if our drop-off had been one week then OK, but now it’s two and we should not need a tough opposition to get us mentally prepared.

‘Esher are absolutely flying, they put 80-odd points on Westcliff just a couple of weeks ago, and they are going to be coming here to do a job, so we have to be at our very best.

‘We will be huge underdogs going into that game and I think it could put a marker down for us as characters.’

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