LISTEN: Raiders aim to knock the leaders off course

‘Is it sensible to take on Fiji playing the Fijian way?’

That was Jordan Reynolds’ rhetorical question as Raiders prepare to welcome National Two South leaders Esher to Footes Lane for the first time tomorrow for what has all the hallmarks of being a cracking spectacle.

‘The last time we played them, the ball-in-play minutes stat was the highest it has been all season, which shows both teams were able to build multiple phases and that’s a sign of what to expect,’ said the Guernsey director of rugby.

‘We are expecting to have to make 120-130 tackles and it should be the same for Esher, so we would predict the ball is going to be in play a lot longer than usual, the game will be more expansive, so it should be exciting to watch.

‘You do not always want to play a side like Esher at their own game, but being expansive is part of our Raiders DNA too.’

  • Hear from the Raiders, Raiders Ladies, and Vikings camps on this week's Guernsey Press Sport Podcast

Reynolds added that there will be two aspects to deal with tomorrow, those being the way Esher play their rugby and also the different emotions that come from playing against the league leaders.

‘We have been talking about effort plays from us this week.

‘Effort is encapsulated in rugby by if it’s important to you, you will do it, and we know Esher will be riding high so it’s about finding those effort plays because they will be a measure of us against Esher and how we perform.

‘They are obviously a good side, but we competed well with them when we went there with a depleted squad so it should be a really interesting game.

‘We are at home, Esher are playing us in Guernsey for the first time so hopefully we will make it as uncomfortable for them as possible.’

Raiders are coming off the back of a first win in four games last week, although the 27-26 victory at Westcliff was not the confidence booster they might have hoped for playing against the side who are second bottom in the league.

Guernsey Raiders Ladies are also in action in front of the Garenne Stand on Saturday, taking on Streatham-Croydon Ladies in a midday kick-off. (Picture by Martin Gray)

However, Reynolds revealed that reviewing that performance has meant his side have not worried about the magnitude of this week’s game.

‘Esher will present different challenges and emotions as a squad, but we have spent a lot of time reflecting on last week when errors were creeping in under frustration.

‘It is going to take a massive improvement from us this week, not in our ability to play, but more in how we deal with mistakes because it resonates.

‘We spoke about “is it better to win 57-26 or 27-0?”, because most of our frustrations came from the fact that we left four or five tries out there in the first half and similarly in the second where we made mistakes and we did not deal with those mistakes so the game ended up being a lot closer than it should have been.

‘There is so much talent in our squad and there are players there who are massively driven to succeed, so when something goes wrong it plays on our minds and we are trying to manage that going forward.

‘We have a group of guys who are so motivated to be almost perfect every time and it’s about dealing with those expectations.’

  • Guernsey Raiders v Esher will kick off at 3pm tomorrow at Footes Lane and is part of a senior triple-header, with Guernsey Raiders Ladies taking on Streatham-Croydon Ladies at noon while St Jacques Vikings face Bracknell at 1pm (Club Pitch).

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