Draw still raw for Raiders

THE bye week proved to be a double-edged sword for Raiders.

On a positive note, the break allowed them to get a couple of players back to fitness for tomorrow’s trip to Rochford Hundred.

On the other hand, it meant that Guernsey have been stewing over their last-minute lapse at home to Sevenoaks a fortnight ago that cost them victory when their opponents scored a try originating from a drop-out from underneath their own posts.

‘To be honest, it’s still pretty raw in the whole squad,’ said director of rugby Jordan Reynolds.

‘I think it just showed that it’s not the way we have performed this season, it is just how mentally we come in and out of games.

‘Against Sevenoaks, at the end when they had that drop-out it was as though we thought “the game’s done, they’re not going to do much with this” and we switched off.

‘We can look at things we cannot control like decisions going against us as factors to why we have lost games, but it is down to us doing silly things and unless we eradicate those silly things, we are going to lose games.

‘The effort is there. We have just got to be smarter in what we do.’

Despite the week off, Reynolds is still having to cope with an extensive injury list with Callum Roberts, Luke Sayer, Malcolm Barnes and Tom Teasdale all sidelined following the Sevenoaks game. Dan Rice and Jason Batiste are also among the unavailable backs.

However, Owen Thomas and Ciaran McGann make welcome returns and the management have opted to play Thomas in his more familiar role at fly-half with Charlie Davies switching to fullback.

Owen Thomas returns at fly-half for Raiders against Rochford Hundred. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 31506241)

‘We are certainly light on numbers, so it’s not ideal,’ Reynolds said.

‘There were a couple of decisions to make around the backline, but it was just about us getting our best seven available out there.

‘There is going to be some rustiness because Owen is back at 10 for the first time in two months, but he has had eight years playing fly-half for Raiders so he knows the role.’

Meanwhile, a familiar figure has been named among the replacements with Siam Cup winner Joe Andresen answering an SOS.

‘Joe is based in the UK now and he has been playing international rugby for Norway in the last couple of months,’ said Reynolds.

‘He is free this weekend so we have pulled him in – needs must at the moment. We know he can cover a few spots for us.’

Raiders are one place above their hosts Rochford in their table, so they are expecting a close battle but Reynolds is pleased that the weather forecast is pretty good, which will allow his side to get the ball wide providing they earn the right to do so.

‘What we do not want against Rochford is to get caught in an arm-wrestle. They have a strong set-piece and will look to use their power game.

‘The squad we have available to pick from still gives us access to play the way we want.’

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