Guernsey Press

Raiders forced into another back-line reshuffle

GUERNSEY aim to serve up an ace performance as they head to Wimbledon tomorrow.

Charlie Simmonds will switch from scrum-half to fly-half for Raiders tomorrow away to Wimbledon. (Picture by Martin Gray,, 32515530)

However, Raiders will need to reverse the trend of their away form so far this season, which has seen them lose to both Henley and Tonbridge Juddians after conceding substantial first-half deficits to their hosts.

In contrast, Guernsey’s home form has been much better with a win over Sevenoaks followed by last week’s narrow five-point defeat to high-class title contenders Esher.

‘We have not performed as we would want in away games,’ said director of rugby Jordan Reynolds.

‘The players and coaches have identified that maybe we’ve been lacking motivation on the away games and it is just trying to change that mindset, so mentally we are preparing a bit different this week.

‘If we perform every week like we did against Esher, where do we end up? Maybe even top three or four. But we know we have to be consistent and that’s the hard part.

‘Injuries have hit us again and we have as many as six backs unavailable this week, so we are making changes, but we are still gelling pretty well and we are hoping that we are turning the corner.

‘It’s just putting that mental part of it together for these away games. If we can do that, I think the sky’s the limit for this team.’

Among those missing from the backline tomorrow is Dan Rice, who was injured in the last play of the game against Esher when he hyper-extended his knee. It has not settled down as quickly as Raiders would have hoped.

Owen Thomas is getting close to a return, but is not quite ready yet so Charlie Simmonds moves to fly-half with Dale Rutledge starting at scrum-half.

With both Nial McGann and Tom Teasdale also currently sidelined along with long-term absentee Anthony Armstrong, Gearoid Lee comes in on the wing.

‘Gearoid has been playing well for the Vikings and training regularly with Raiders. He was close to being on the bench last week, but we opted to go with the four forwards in the end,’ Reynolds said.

‘Dale has been playing well this season and, as I said at the time, he was unlucky to miss out last week.’

In the pack, Jamie Dunn comes in at loose-head prop for the now-departed Jacob Pinkney and Tom Ceillam is back at hooker with James Burger on the bench.

‘Wimbledon will have this down as a must-win game for them. It’s going to be a tough encounter,’ Reynolds said.

‘Their set-piece is very good and they have a very good 10 who likes to drive his pack around the park and has a very good kicking game.

‘They have been beaten heavily by two of the best teams in the league – Dorking and Barnes – but they have also won two very good games, including beating Canterbury away, which is not very easy to do.

‘That shows they have done some good work so far.’

Guernsey Raiders team

Jamie Dunn, Tom Ceillam, Charlie Currie, Lewis Hillier, Brad Webb, Matt Creber, Dom Rice, Carter Hackett, Dale Rutledge, Charlie Simmonds, Gearoid Lee, Ciaran McGann, Ethan Smith, Sam Boyland, Callum Roberts. Replacements: JP Phelan, James Burger, Hugo Culverhouse, Charlie Davies plus AN Other.