Guernsey Press

‘Really poor’ Raiders turn on the power to get over the line

It was the bonus-point victory Raiders were looking for.

Another successful Raiders maul ends in a try for JP Phelan. (Picture by Martin Gray,, 33087317)

The performance was anything but and it left the Guernsey coach needing more than a chocolate Easter egg to get the bad taste out of his mouth.

‘We were poor. We were really poor,’ said Jordan Reynolds.

‘Attack-wise, we were fine, but defensively that was probably the poorest I’ve seen us for a long time.

‘We just spoke about it, saying, “look, we’ve got a week off now and people are going to come back with a better attitude because that was just...” – there’s words I want to say and I just can’t get them out.

‘I was just completely disappointed.’

At best the Raiders performance was patchy with the best bits seeing them exert their superiority over National Two East’s bottom side, while the worst parts saw them have the demeanour of a team who expected to win the game but forgot to earn the right to do so.

The start was particularly promising when, after North Walsham’s opening kick-off carried out on the full as the wind did its bit, the Guernsey pack dominated the opening scrum. That theme of power was to prove the difference on the day against fairly lightweight visitors, whose threat came more from their fleet of foot.

For the first 10 minutes, though, Raiders would struggle to retain possession once they got into decent positions.

They eventually made the breakthrough on 14 minutes and it came from their set-piece as a scrum in front of the posts saw them drive the visitors all the way back over their line before Hugo Culverhouse touched the ball down.

The lead did not last long as the impressive Tawanda Kandemwa came off his wing to take Connor Dudley’s clever reverse pop pass to burst through and score.

A brilliant offload out of the tackle from Tom Teasdale then set up Niall McGann to restore a five-point lead, but the visitors took a two-point lead just after the half-hour when a missed tackle on halfway allowed flanker Jobe Brooks to eat up the ground before Harry Langbridge appeared on his shoulder to gratefully accept the final pass and go untouched to the line.

Guernsey responded by moving up a gear for the last five minutes of the opening 40 and picking up the four-try bonus point before the interval.

The third came from a familiar source as Tom Ceillam hit his mark from a 5m line-out and then joined the maul to get the try as the pack powered over before Ciaran McGann supported Sam Boyland’s break to score with the final play of the half.

Another successful maul brought the first try of the second half, this time scored by Dom Rice, but Raiders were then reduced to 14 men with Tom Teasdale sent to the sin bin for a high tackle and North Walsham made the most of their numerical advantage when a terrific attack instigated by Kandemwa resulted in Daniel Smith touching down.

When JP Phelan increased Raiders’ lead to 34-21 with nine minutes remaining following a rolling maul that made it all the way from the North Walsham 22 to the line, the general feeling was victory had been secured.

No one had told the visitors, though, and they hit back with 90 seconds of the match left when a quick free-kick led to a try for scrum-half Dudley.

Ross Magnus’ fourth conversion of the day brought North Walsham back within six points and ramped up the tension in the crowd.

Guernsey went deep with the restart as the clock ticked down, but for once the North Walsham handling let them down in the backs and the ball was spilled, giving the home forwards one final chance to get the shove on in the scrum and from that set-piece Boyland penetrated the defensive line to put a gloss on the scoreline that was barely deserved.

  • Jacob Smith scored a hat-trick as St Jacques Vikings won 45-12 at Fordingbridge on Saturday.