Guernsey Press

Poor first half proves costly for Raiders at Henley

GUERNSEY gave themselves too big a mountain to climb on Saturday as they were downed by the Hawks.

Matt Creber touches down to score the first Raiders try of the new season. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 32490569)

Having trailed 30-14 at half-time to their Henley hosts, Raiders fought back hard in the second 40 minutes to earn a bonus point, having scored five tries, but director of rugby Jordan Reynolds emphasised that his side had given themselves too much to do by that stage in their National Two East season opener.

‘In the first half we were just not good enough, particularly defensively,’ he said.

‘To be honest, even in the warm-up we were a bit off – maybe there were some nerves, I don’t know.

‘But in that first half we dropped off a lot of tackles, did not win the collisions and they scored 30 points.’

Scott White touched down in the first couple of minutes to give Henley the lead and Alex Bradley, Seb Scott and a penalty try ensured they had their four-try bonus before the interval.

Max Titchener added a conversion and a couple of penalties to their points tally in that first half.

Guernsey replied through tries from Matt Creber and James Burger, both of which were converted by Tom Teasdale.

Raiders were much improved after the turnaround with Ethan Smith, Burger and Phil Le Noury scoring tries, with Teasdale adding two more conversions.

Ethan Smith takes the ball into contact. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 32490579)

Hawks managed to stay ahead, though, with Titchener kicking two more penalties and also converting White’s second try.

‘We had a talk at half-time and we came out much better in the second half. They scored just one try whereas we scored three in that second half,’ Reynolds said.

‘While we are trying to move forward, I would say that in that second half we saw glimpses of what we know as Raiders rugby, but when you are down by 16 points at half-time, it’s tough to try and win a game from there because it is such a big gap.

‘The positives are it could have been a 60-point loss but we found a way to get back into the game.

‘If you are scoring five tries and 33 points away from home, though, you shouldn’t be losing the game.

‘Our set-pieces did not fire as we hoped and we have got to get better in our collisions.’

Reynolds highlighted the influence of Creber around the park as he picked out a few standout performances, while also giving a name check to Smith and Sam Boyland on the wings.

He expects that a few more players will be available for this coming weekend’s opening home game of the season against Sevenoaks, who were 23-22 winners against Canterbury on Saturday

‘Henley will be there or thereabouts again around the top six this season,’ said Reynolds.

‘That probably puts the onus on us because that is where we should be going by that second half.

‘They will not have felt comfortable, they knew they were under pressure and that is why they were celebrating whenever they converted a penalty.

‘We just have to start games better and finish off the same way.’