Is the great escape really on for Raiders?
‘ANYTHING can happen’ predicts Raiders head coach Jordan Reynolds.
His men’s second straight win in a 13-try thriller at London Irish Wild Geese gives the battle-ravaged squad an outside chance of avoiding the National Two South trap-door which seemed firmly shut a few weeks back but is now ajar.
Raiders have four games to play, three of them at home starting this Saturday when Dings Crusaders visit Footes Lane.
Win that and with an away game at Henley, plus home fixtures with Taunton Titans and Old Albanians, to follow, Raiders have given themselves a sniff of a chance of escaping. It’s small, but possible, says the Australian.
‘It makes it a little bit of an exciting end of the season for us,’ he said after seeing his team close the gap on struggling Old Redcliffians to 11 points.
Realistically, Raiders have to win at least three more times and hope that Old Reds win none, but the Guernsey side have been given a major boost from a very unexpected source of inspiration.
After his serious cheekbone injury incurred in early December and requiring surgery at Southampton General, Malcolm Barnes made a surprise return as a highly-influential replacement in Saturday’s win at London Irish Wild Geese.
The Kiwi was his usual brilliant self as he rescued a bad situation brought about by a dire shortage of backs for the trip.
Barnes, who assists Reynolds with coaching, surprisingly volunteered his services on the eve of the game with Raiders set to travel with no back-up back.
‘I didn’t put any pressure on him at all,’ said Reynolds.
‘I guess he thought about it [the situation] and he said ‘’I’ll take my boots and in the worse case scenario I’ll play’’.
And play he did, superbly as usual.
‘He made the difference,’ said his coach.
‘It meant Tom Teasdale could go out into the midfield and he was definitely our man-of-the-match, which was great.’
Whether Barnes, just 33 but with a string of major injuries behind him, reappears will be down to him, said the coach.
‘He has been constantly coming back from injuries and he’s got tired of that.
‘I was always hoping to at least have him for the Siam, but the decision sits with him.
‘But if he makes himself available his name will be the first on the teamsheet.’