Guernsey Press

Raiders want to use frustration as motivation

RAIDERS are entering a season-defining run of matches – starting tomorrow at Westcombe Park.

Hugo Culverhouse making a strong tackle against Barnes. He retains the Raiders No 6 shirt for the trip to Westcombe Park. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32690267)

Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds was proud of the way his side ‘competed against one of the top two sides in the league’ in defeat to Barnes last week, having gone into that contest off the back of losing to National Two East leaders Dorking, but he emphasised that over the coming weeks performances need to bring some reward in the way of league points to climb up the table.

‘We have played five of the top six sides in our first eight games, now we have a run against a lot of the teams around us.

‘We have got to change our season and we are the ones who control that,’ Reynolds said.

‘We do have a huge amount of confidence from what we did against Barnes. The 28-11 scoreline – was it justified? Probably not, there was probably just a score between us in terms of performance on the day.

‘There is a frustration that we can play like that and things do not go our way, but that frustration is motivation we have to use in the upcoming games.

‘There cannot be any excuses. We have got to have the right attitude going to Westcombe Park because a win is hugely important to us.

‘We have got the squad to do it, now we have got to get our ducks in a row mentally to achieve it.’

Guernsey are boosted by the return of Matt Creber to the match-day squad, but he will be among the replacements as Hugo Culverhouse holds onto the No 6 shirt, with the only change in the starting pack being return of Tom Ceillam at hooker with James Burger dropping to the bench and Phil Le Noury turning out for Vikings.

‘It’s how to balance selections and performances,’ said Reynolds.

‘Last week I don’t think many put a foot wrong, so it’s tough to justify any changes, and even before his start last week, Hugo had come off the bench in the previous couple of games and performed really well. Against Barnes he carried well and he is a good line-out option.’

In the back-line, Sam Boyland takes over at scrum-half with Dale Rutledge on the bench as Charlie Simmonds gets a rest.

Niall McGann is also with St Jacques this weekend as Owen Thomas is back in the ranks.

‘We have got three really good nines and last week, coming on for the second half, Sam Boyland was very quick to the rucks to shift our points of offence. Dale has been pretty consistent this season too, so it is more a matter of rotation,’ said the head coach.

‘Niall got a few minutes off the bench last week, but we felt giving him 80 minutes with the Vikings will be more beneficial for him this week and it gives us the opportunity to bring Owen back in as a special 10.

‘Myself and Malcolm [Barnes, assistant coach] have had a lot of conversations around selection and it was not easy. We made some tough decisions last week, some of which worked, others maybe didn’t, and we have made some different choices this week.’

Westcombe Park are familiar opponents for Raiders, who faced them for several seasons in National Three and have also played them in pre-season friendlies.

So far this campaign they have won two of their eight fixtures, but have been competitive virtually every week.

‘Look at Westcombe Park’s results and one thing that comes out of it is they know how to score points – a lot of their games are high-scoring,’ Reynolds said.

‘In their game at Wimbledon both sides were above 40 points and there was just one score between them, they scored over 30 points against Barnes, so they are very good at scoring points and we are going to have to keep control of that.’

Guernsey Raiders

Sam Steventon, Tom Ceillam, Charlie Currie, Lewis Hillier, Brad Webb, Hugo Culverhouse, Dom Rice, Carter Hackett, Sam Boyland, Dan Rice, Ethan Smith, Ciaran McGann, Dan Barnes, Tom Teasdale, Callum Roberts. Replacements: James Burger, Jamie Dunn, Matt Creber, Dale Rutledge, Owen Thomas.