This week Raiders were away to league leaders and title favourites Rams.
Raiders were glad to see matt Walsh and Curtis Barnes on the bench, both returning after lengthy injuries. Unfortunately as two return two depart, Jack Forrest and Kemp Price both picking up injuries against Barnes the previous week.
On a cold, damp and very dark afternoon it was the visitors that kicked off.
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Raiders made a positive start to the game and put pressure on the home side as they made good use of the ball in Rams’ territory. It didn’t however take long for the home side to show why they are top of the league.
As they got into their stride the pressure all fell on the visitors and as the half progressed Raiders found it hard to get their hands on the ball and when they did it was generally deep in their own half. The constant pressure resulted in the home side scoring at regular intervals and even though Raiders’ defence was working well the repeated attacks eventually found a way through to score.
Raiders conceded too many penalties at the scrum and rucks which allowed Rams to kick to the corners and use their very efficient pack to create scoring chances from the ensuing lineouts.
The visitors had their moments in the first half but they were few and far between and none resulted in points. Raiders were a bit like the proverbial “rabbits in the headlights” during the first half.
The second half restarted with Rams kicking off. As Raiders moved the ball out of defence Kiba Richards made a half break, was half tackled and carried on with his run, unfortunately the referee deemed the tackle to have been completed and awarded a penalty. Thus after only a minute Raiders faced another lineout five metres from their line. Rams extended their lead with another try. (34-0) Not the start they wanted to the second half.
After ten minutes the home side scored again and the lead became 41-0. The worry now was how the young Raiders would respond but respond they did, steadily gaining confidence and gaining more of the possession. They now spent far more time on attack than in defence. Matt Mclean almost scored down the left wing but was forced onto the touchline as he evaded the last defender.
Matt Walsh and Curtis Barnes joined the action and were keen to get stuck in after missing the last month.
Having been under pressure in the scrum in the first half the tide had begun to turn in the second. Rams were no longer gaining penalties at the scrum and Raiders were now on the front foot on their own put in.
Although no points had been scored yet by the visitors they now looked more like the team we know, using their mobile forwards to link with their exciting backs to create scoring chances. They now had long spells in possession going through many phases of play. They were able to keep the home side pinned in their own twenty two metre area and eventually this pressure told and Matt Walsh dived over from close range. Matt McLean added the extras to make it 41-7.
From the restart the visitors quickly got themselves back on the attack with plenty of fast open play mixed with good, close forward surges.
As the game neared its end Rams knowing time was up tried to kick the ball out of play but Harrison Sims took a good, high catch under pressure and brushed off the attempted tacklers to romp in and score the final points of the game. With the conversion missed the game ended at 41-12.
Overall a poor result for Raiders as if they had played the first half in the same way as they did the second the game might have been much closer and at least a bonus point might have been earned.
On the positive side the second half was a 12-12 draw. You have to admire the spirit and skill of the squad after the mauling they received in the first half.
Many thanks as usual to our travelling supporters.
Full time score: Rams 41 Worthing Raiders 12
Referee: Alan Chandrachud
Scorers: Tries: Matt Walsh, Harrison Sims. Cons: Matt McLean
Team: 15. Harry Forrest 14. Sam Boyland 13. Kiba Richards 12. Harrison Sims 11. Jack Maslen 10. Matt McLean - Captain 9. Ben Holt 1. Henry Birch 2. Will Grief 3. Kieran Sassone 4. Jack Lee 5. George Hammond 6. Jack Lake 7. George Harris 8. Rob Cuffe
Bench: 16. Elliott Luke 17. Tom Adams 18. Jon Whittall 22. Matt Walsh 20. Curtis Barnes (all used)