Guernsey Press

Raiders take step in right direction with bonus-point win

The message to relax did the trick for Raiders on Saturday.

Ethan Smith scored both of Guernsey's first-half tries at North Walsham. (Picture by Martin Gray/Guernsey Sport Photography, 32758118)

Guernsey, who had lost their previous four games, are back up to 10th in National Two East following their 22-14 bonus-point win away at North Walsham, with the manner of victory far more convincing than the eventual eight-point margin in Norfolk suggests.

‘It was much improved. To be fair, I don’t think the scoreline really reflected the game because we had maybe another four or five good opportunities to score,’ said director of rugby Jordan Reynolds.

‘Conditions were very poor, the pitch was very muddy and it was pretty much non-stop rain up there, but in general I thought we played really well and to get the bonus point right at the end was a big boost for us.

‘Considering it was so wet, I was pleased we continued to try and play the same rugby, push the ball to the outer edges and we stuck to the task well, which was great.

‘If it had been a dry day, we could have probably done a lot more damage, but we got the five points and you cannot ask for much more than that in those conditions.’

It was a far from ideal start for the visitors when, in just the third minute, North Walsham took the lead through a penalty try that saw Tom Teasdale sent to the sin bin.

‘We thought it was a little bit dubious,’ Reynolds said.

‘Tom and their player were shoulder-to-shoulder racing for the ball after they had put in a couple of grubber kicks and the officials deemed that Tom had tackled their guy off the ball.

‘We felt he was actually ahead of their guy, so we’re not sure how he could tackle him.’

Raiders shrugged off that early setback and two Ethan Smith tries, the second of which was converted by Ciaran McGann, put them 12-7 up at half-time.

McGann was also shown a yellow card early in the second half, but Guernsey remained on top and extended their lead through Kieran Creber.

A rare venture into the Raiders half in the 63rd minute gave North Walsham their second try of the game and closed the gap to three points, but a set move straight off the training ground saw Brad Webb go over late on to seal the win and the four-try bonus point.

‘It was a good moment because when those things come off it’s always gratifying. You come up with these ideas and often they don’t work, so when they do it’s nice to enjoy them,’ Reynolds said of the final try.

The coach added that there were good performances all round, name-checking Hugo Culverhouse and Teasdale for their impact on the game, before adding that the front row deserved a lot of credit too.

‘We had six front-rowers in the squad, mostly because we did not have a choice due to the amount of guys missing, but we knew our side was going to be limited in terms of numbers so we did not worry about who we did not have, we knew what we did have and we knew a strong scrum was going to be key for us,’ said the coach.

‘Defensively we were pretty sound and we played some good rugby.

‘Going into the game we said we wanted to relax and find some of our old form and we managed to do that.

‘We still have a long way to go to get back to our best, but this was a good step in the right direction.’

The five points gives Raiders a bit of breathing space from the bottom three sides, but Reynolds emphasised it is important for his side to keep improving.

‘We do have a bit of a buffer, but I’d still say we are still in that bottom section so it is really important to take this win and look to pick up another one or two before the end of the year,’ he said.

‘We have Old Albanians away this weekend, Bury St Edmunds at home and then Sevenoaks away, so that’s three tough games and if we could get a win or two, it would be huge for us.’