Worthing Raiders make it 19 points from last 20

Henry Birch drives forward. Picture by Colin Coulson
Henry Birch drives forward. Picture by Colin Coulson

After a good win on the road at Barnes the previous week Raiders returned to the Rugby Park this Saturday to play Dings Crusaders from Bristol.

With the visitors sitting one place above us in the league a close game was in prospect.

Selection this week was a mixture of good and bad news. Scott Barlow was unavailable due to injury, but skipper Liam Perkins returned after missing the Barnes game. Also returning to the squad was Jordan Gibson and Jack Lee. Kieran Leeming having re-joined the club, was also included on the bench. Kariym Irving, who played for Raiders a couple of seasons ago was also in the squad on loan from Blackheath.

The latter part of the week had been wet and Saturday yet again was a dark, rainy day.

Dings kicked off defending the southern end of the ground and within the first minute the home side were handling the ball with great skill in testing conditions.

Matt McLean caught a high kick and passed infield to Henry Anscombe; he threw a long pass out wide to Jack Forrest who carved his way through the Dings’ defence to score from the half way line. The conversion was missed but with only two minutes played the home side had the early lead, 5-0.

It didn’t take the visitors long to score their first points of the day when a well-executed catch and drive was followed by moving the ball quickly to the left wing to score an unconverted try, 5-5.

Despite the worsening conditions more exceptional handling from the home side produced a second try after nine minutes. Matt McLean made ground on the right wing before chipping over the oncoming defenders, he was able to reclaim the ball and slip a pass inside to Harry Forrest who in turn released the ball to brother Jack who completed the move with his second try of the afternoon. Matt McLean’s conversion rebounded off the post leaving Raiders in a 10-5 lead.

The home side were clearly in control of the game for the next ten minutes and managed to score two further tries.

John Dawe produced clean, fast ball off the top of a lineout and the backs worked a clinical move which created a gap for Harry Forrest to sprint through the visitors’ defence and touch down from forty metres out. Matt McLean converted to extend the lead to 17-5.

Shortly after Matt McLean received a kick on the Raiders ten metre line, having sold a dummy he then made a thirty metre break before giving the ball to Henry Anscombe, his pass to Elliott Luke was perfectly timed and he scored the fourth and bonus point try. The lead was now 22-5.

Dings looked at their most dangerous when they got into positions on the field where they could use the catch and drive to put pressure on the Raiders’ defence. In the wet, greasy conditions both sides used the high kick as an effective ploy to gain field position.

As the half drew to a close Raiders were spending long periods in the Dings’ twenty-two metre area and several times came within inches of adding to their score. When the whistle went for half time the general feeling around the ground was that they should really have ended with one or maybe two more scores. Despite this it was an excellent first forty minutes for the home side.

Half time score: Worthing Raiders 22 Dings Crusaders 5

As seems to happen every Saturday this season the weather deteriorated as the second half got underway. Raiders restarted the game, but the continuity and control were not up to the standard exhibited in the first half.

The home side tried to extend their lead with a long penalty attempt after three minutes but the kick went wide.

Neither side was able to maintain possession for long without being turned over. The game was much more scrappy and clear chances were not being created.

Dings had a resurgence during the middle of the half and earned themselves another unconverted try, 22-10.

The home side eventually got their game going again and Henry Anscombe added a penalty with about ten minutes left to play, 25-10.

Raiders maintained the pressure and created more chances in the final minutes. The final try of the day went to Curtis Barnes who chased a cleverly place grubber kick by Sam Boyland to outstrip the defence and get the touchdown. Henry Anscombe landed the conversion from the touchline.

Full time score: Worthing Raiders 32 Dings Crusaders 10

The crowd of around 350 had braved the elements for the umpteenth time this season and were rewarded with another solid and at times very entertaining victory.

A great spell from Raiders has seen them take nineteen points from a possible twenty in the last four games.

Referee: Dr Jonathan Cook

B&W Man of the Match: Liam Perkins

Scorers: Tries: Forrest J x 2, Forrest H, Luke, Barnes. Con: McLean, Anscombe. Pen: Anscombe

Team: 1. Henry Birch (Litterick 63 min) 2. Elliott Luke (Gibson 63 min) 3. Rhys Litterick (Gatford 36 min, Birch 73 min) 4. Liam Perkins – Captain 5. Jack Lake 6. Jon Whittall 7. John Dawe 8. Kiba Richards (Leeming 76 min) 9. Sam Boyland 10. Henry Anscombe 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Tom Gwyther (Lee 53 min) 13. Jack Forrest 14. Harry Forrest 15. Matt McLean (Irving 50 min)

Bench: 16. Jordan Gibson 17. Grant Gatford 18. Jack Lee 24. Kieran Leeming 25. Kariym Irving

Attendance: 345