Raiders front-row duo return for trip to BSE

REVENGE will not be a motivating factor for Raiders when they visit Bury St Edmunds tomorrow, insists Jordan Reynolds.

Front-rowers Tom Ceillam (ball in hand) and Sam Steventon return to the Guernsey Raiders starting XV tomorrow for the trip to Bury St Edmunds, who won narrowly 20-15 at Footes Lane last month. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30631438)
Front-rowers Tom Ceillam (ball in hand) and Sam Steventon return to the Guernsey Raiders starting XV tomorrow for the trip to Bury St Edmunds, who won narrowly 20-15 at Footes Lane last month. (Picture by Martin Gray, 30631438)

The Guernsey director of rugby revealed that the 20-15 defeat to the same opposition last month at Footes Lane has not even been mentioned in training this week. Instead, learning the lessons from the narrow loss at Old Albanian six days ago, when Guernsey made a whole host of changes, has been the squad’s main focus.

‘We are just looking for improvement from last week,’ said Reynolds.

‘With all the changes we made, there was always going to be something go wrong and we accepted that would happen going into that game.

‘If you are bleeding six tries in a game, something obviously has gone wrong, but if you can stop that happening again it gives you a way better chance to come out of the game with something.’

Reynolds is continuing with a rest-and-rotation policy that sees prop Sam Steventon and hooker Tom Ceillam returning to the starting front row but the back row remains without regulars Oscar Baird, Dom Rice and Doug Horrocks.

One of the Rice brothers will feature, though, as Dan comes in for Owen Thomas at fly-half in a backline that will also be without Ciaran McGann, Joe Andresen and Michael Jamieson.

Charlie Davies is partnered in midfield by Matt Armstrong, with older brother Anthony Armstrong back on the wing.

Luke Sayer, who appeared for St Jacques Vikings against Bury St Edmunds Seconds last month, will play at fullback.

‘The interesting thing over the last three weeks is that we’ve made considerable changes, but if you look in particular at our backline, it has remained strong, which shows we have real depth there,’ said Reynolds.

Once pressed, the Raiders head coach admitted that the five-point defeat to BSE four weeks was a ‘tough one’ to take from his point of view as his side dominated possession and territory in the second half but failed to score a try and had to kick a penalty with time up just to secure a losing bonus point.

‘The frustrating part was that we were the better side – if you could pick up points for line breaks or dominant tackles, we would have come out on top.

‘We were in their 22 eight or nine times in the second half, but because we were not expecting the first half to go the way it did, our frustration got the better of us and we did not convert.

‘Everything is about doing our simple roles for the team environment. If we had done that the last time, we would have probably beaten them by three or four tries.’

Since then BSE have hammered Westcliff 61-0 and lost exciting games away to promotion-chasing Clifton and Esher.

‘BSE are still in good form – if they are losing games it’s only by a small margins and against Esher they scored some good tries.

‘There are certain things they do very well ... they are very smart in what they do and very deliberate.

‘They play wide off their 9 and 10, so we have to cover the pitch well and we perhaps did not do that well against Bury last time and we definitely didn’t last week. Making sure we get our spacing right from rucks and getting numbers out wide will be important.

‘Our defensive sets have to be a big focus for us.’

Guernsey Raiders team

Steventon, Ceillam, Pinkney, Merrien, Webb, Burger, Creber, Welch, Simmonds, Dan Rice, Smith, Davies, M Armstrong, A Armstrong, Sayer. Replacements: Morgan, Bray, Thomas, Rutledge, Gladstone.

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