Guernsey Press

Raiders welcome back Armstrong ahead of home TJ’s clash

He is not a new face to start the new year, but Anthony Armstrong makes a welcome and timely return to the Raiders ranks for their first game of 2024.

Anthony Armstrong in action against Tonbridge Juddians in September. He returns to the Raiders squad for the first time since that match tomorrow when TJs are once again the opposition. (Picture by Mike Marshall, 32870419)

Coincidentally, the winger suffered his dislocated shoulder against Tonbridge Juddians in mid-September and they are the visitors to Footes Lane tomorrow with Guernsey wanting to string some results together to pull away from the relegation zone.

‘Anthony has been training regularly for the last couple of months. He was pretty keen to give it until the new year and he has dropped a few kilos and looks pretty fit,’ said Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds.

‘He is definitely a player we have missed, but there is no pressure on him coming back after a pretty lengthy time out. We just want him to enjoy being back and playing some rugby.’

Armstrong’s return is the one piece of positive news on the injury front, with several regulars still sidelined, but Reynolds reported that the Christmas break has renewed enthusiasm within his squad.

‘We have still got six or seven guys out, so it has not changed much for us, but everyone has had a good rest, we started training again last week and there has been a good energy from the boys.

‘We are still putting out a strong squad on Saturday and we have got a pretty strong bench, which will be used at some stage.

‘We have had a pretty good chat about our last couple of home games – the losses against Canterbury and Bury St Edmunds – and I don’t think anyone is more disappointed in those performances than we are as a group, but we have drawn a line in the sand under those and this is a great opportunity to start the new year well.

‘We know it is desperation time for us because the teams around us are winning games and picking up bonus points, but we performed well in our last game away to Sevenoaks, ran them close, and they have just beaten Barnes at home last week, so they have proved they are a good side.

‘Without wanting to sound silly, though, we have got to force teams to earn our respect rather than giving them a head start and then looking courageous by coming back into the game in the second half.

‘We have got to push teams from the start.’

TJs won the reverse fixture 36-25 in September and are sixth in National Two East, although the top five sides have opened up a 10-point gap on the rest.

‘TJs are quite set-piece orientated, they go to their driving maul a lot and they have got a lot of high-quality players in their pack, so it will be a really tough test for us,’ Reynolds said.

‘They have had some great results this season, they seem to grind out good performances most weeks, but we feel we have found some areas where we hope to open them up.’

  • Guernsey Raiders v Tonbridge Juddians kicks off at 1.30pm and is the second part of a Footes Lane double-header with the Guernsey Raiders Ladies playing their TJs counterparts at 11.30am.

Guernsey Raiders team

Steventon, Burger, Currie, Hillier, Webb, Creber, Dom Rice, Culverhouse, Boyland, Teasdale, Smith, N McGann, C McGann, Armstrong, Roberts.

Replacements: Dunn, Phelan, Hackett, Rutledge, Dan Rice.