Guernsey Press

Raiders ready for season-defining day as rivals Wimbledon visit Footes Lane

Raiders want to embrace the magnitude of today’s big clash with Wimbledon, not shy away from it.

Tom Teasdale touching down in Raiders’ last home outing, a huge win against TJ’s. (Picture by Martin Gray/Guernsey Sport Photography, 32917451)

‘As a squad we have spoken about the importance of this one. For us, there’s no more important game and it is not about applying pressure to ourselves, it is about creating an atmosphere for us to perform well,’ said Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds ahead of the clash between the 11th and 12th placed sides in National Two East who are both battling against relegation.

‘A win could create breathing space between us and those sides below us, but both teams will be thinking along similar lines.

‘This 80 minutes could be season-defining and we have to have that as motivation.

‘If we defend as well as we did against TJs, we will give ourselves the best chance of coming out on the right side of this one, but we know we have to attack better. It would be great if we could be threatening for long periods on attack.’

The postponement of last week’s trip to league leaders Esher due to a frozen pitch has given Raiders the benefit of added rest compared to Wimbledon, who lost a high-scoring affair to Canterbury, and it has given enough time for co-captain Lewis Hillier to recover sufficiently from his ankle problem to be named in the starting XV.

There is a change in the backline with fit-again Charlie Simmonds coming in at fly-half and Tom Teasdale moving to inside centre, with Niall McGann on the bench.

‘From the TJs game where we had probably a lot more defensive set-up, this week we decided we wanted to go with playmakers and the weather forecast being pretty good helps with that because it almost allows us to have two 10s in play, and attack-wise, we should benefit from having two pivots,’ said Reynolds.

When the two sides met in September, Wimbledon took the lead before Raiders dominated the middle part of the game to go on to win 34-22.

‘They scored a couple of early tries, we then dominated the middle part of the game and then they came back with a couple more tries towards the end.

‘But I don’t think that game reflects on either side in terms of the season as a whole as we went there with a depleted team. We have got something like six or seven regulars back for this game who were not involved while Wimbledon have been really competitive since then and they are a team that can strike and strike well.

‘We know that because when we went there in September looking to get off to a good start, for the first 10 minutes they blew us away. They like to play at a high tempo and loose as well, so it could be a very interesting game.’

Kick off is at 3pm after St Jacques Vikings face Millbrook at 12.30pm.

Guernsey Raiders team

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