WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club let a 19 point lead slip as Barnes fought back to grab a draw at Roundstone Lane on Saturday.
The hosts led 24-5 seven minutes into the second half but Barnes hit back to leave Worthing without a win in three matches. Raiders moved up a place to 11th with the draw but are just three points ahead of third-from-bottom Redingensians Rams, who are in the relegation zone.
The visitors made the livelier start and scored after six minutes when scrum-half Jack Franklin picked the ball up at the base of a ruck, which had formed five metres from Raiders’ line, and sprinted over to score an uncoverted try.
Worthing then started to take control, particularly in the forwards, and launched a series of attacks but failed to score owing to careless handling errors at vital moments.
Their hard work paid off in the 19th minute, however, when they were awarded a penalty, which Matt McLean successfully converted.
Raiders continued to exert pressure and went ahead on 32 minutes. They were awarded a penalty close to Barnes’ line and opted for a scrum, with Liam Perkins going over following a phase of eight drives.
McLean added the extras to give Worthing a 10-5 lead and the hosts extended their lead just before half-time.
After some slick handling among the forwards following a line-out, the ball was passed to Elliott Luke, who drove over from ten metres out, with McLean adding the extras to give Worthing a 17-5 lead at the break.
Raiders started the second half as lively as they had finished the first and went straight on the attack. Seven minutes into the half, they were awarded a penalty ten metres from the Barnes line. As the Barnes second row had been yellow-carded, Raiders opted for a scrum and the visitors were unable to control the big Raiders’ drive and the referee awarded a penalty try, which McLean converted.
Despite appearing to be in control, Raiders gave away a series of penalties which Barnes capitalised on when winger Daniel Homes sprinted over the line to score from 20 metres out.
In the 58th minute, Raiders had a try disallowed for a double movement following a maul and this seemed to be the turning point of the game as Barnes became reinvigorated.
Worthing continued to give away penalties and had Joe Watson-Brooks yellow carded.
Barnes made the most of the extra player and, following a series of drives for the line from their forwards, the ball found its way along the backs to winger Fraser Carlisle, who sprinted in to score in the corner. Tom O’Toole added the extras.
Barnes’ recovery continued and with three minutes of the game remaining they turned the ball over and went in pursuit of the Raiders line.
The ball was passed between the forwards and backs, before a neat inside pass to second row Matthew Steele enabled him to run in from 15 metres. O’Toole successfully converted to level the score.
The last couple of minutes were frenetic, with Raiders going on the attack. They were awarded a penalty 35 metres out and the opportunity to snatch the win but McLean’s kick crept just under the bar as the match finished all square.
Worthing travel to bottom-of-the-table Cornish All Blacks on Saturday.
RAIDERS: Storer, Luke, Margetson, Barlow, Arthur, Smith, Whitall; Perkins, Leeming, Montgomery, Farnes, Greenwood, Loosmore, Wilcockson, McLean. Subs: Sargent, Watson-Brooks, Ure, Hewick, O’Hagan.
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