The first return fixture of the season, the final game of 2019 and the final game of the decade, could The Raiders continue their excellent run of form and give the Roundstone Lane crowd a Christmas present?
The Raiders had begun the decade with a home win against Barnes back in January 2010.
Matt McLean played in that game but missed the opportunity to end the decade as he began it, as he was busy getting married. Liam Perkins was on duty to ensure that Matt didn’t slope off to The Rugby Park instead of the service, so the coaches were once again forced to ring the changes.
Sam Cook and Henry Birch swapped bench and start places, Scott Barlow returned in the second row, with Jack Lake moving to No. 6 and Jon Whittall assuming the captaincy at No. 8. In the backs, Will Beer replaced Matt McLean at full back and Will Sanderson filled the injured Harry Forrest’s place on the wing.
See our picture special from Worthing Raiders v Bournemouth here - including fans in festive dress
Despite the torrential rain of the previous days and Saturday morning the pitch was in good condition, the clouds departed on schedule at noon and the warm-up and game went ahead in sunshine. Bournemouth kicked off towards the scoreboard end and play continued for over two minutes before the first stoppage when the visitors were penalised at a ruck.
Some “advice” to the referee resulted in them being marched back a further ten metres and Henry Anscombe placed the kick perfectly in the corner. Jack Lake gathered the throw in, the forwards set up the drive and Jon Whittall celebrated his captaincy with the first try of the game. Henry Anscombe missed the difficult conversion but with four minutes gone The Raiders had the lead. (5-0)
The game flowed back and forth for ten minutes with defences/errors coming out on top. The home side were penalised at a lineout close to their line for a dummy throw and a quickly taken free kick allowed Bournemouth’s hooker to crash over for a converted try. (5-7)
The visitors barely had time to celebrate their lead before The Raiders launched into twenty minutes of rugby which sealed the try bonus point and effectively took the game away from them. From centre field the play went right then left, Calum Waters released the ball to the backs and a deft kick through was chased and collected by Curtis Barnes who scored well in-field to give Henry Anscombe a kickable conversion. (12-5) Ten minutes later it was the forwards turn again. Bournemouth were penalised at a scrum on their 22m line and Anscombe again placed the kick in the corner. The lineout was won, and the phases built until Jordan Gibson crossed the line close to the posts giving Anscombe a straightforward job which he duly accomplished. (19-5)
The next score was only four minutes away. A promising attack developed down the left wing, with good interplay between John Dawe and Curtis Barnes, the final pass was deliberately knocked on by the visitors’ captain on their 22m, earning The Raiders a penalty and the culprit ten minutes in the bin.
Again, Anscombe went for the corner, the lineout was won, the phases were built and, with another penalty advantage being played, the fly-half nudged the ball through for Will Beer to chase and ground in the corner. Anscombe missed the difficult conversion but the bonus point try was in the bag. (24-5) A couple of minutes later Jack Lake stole a Bournemouth lineout, play moved across the field before Calum Waters spread the ball to the backs again. John Dawe broke the defensive line and then released Curtis Barnes whose speed and sidestep were too much for the defending full-back. With the score under the posts Henry Anscombe made no mistake with the conversion, which was the last play of the first half. (31-5)
With the score-line as it was, it was inevitable that the visitors would go all out to get a foothold back in the game. A couple of penalties and a couple of scrums saw The Raiders defending their own line and eventually the visiting fly-half spotted a gap to dot the ball down on forty-seven minutes for a converted try. (31-12) Henry Birch and Elliott Luke replaced Sam Cook and Jordan Gibson and this heralded a period where, once again, defences/errors were in charge and the game was in the final quarter before the deadlock was broken. Bournemouth were penalised for kicking the ball through a ruck, and Calum Waters’ quick tap penalty caught out the defence. Having made thirty metres plus, the scrum half off-loaded to Tom Gwyther who finished off the try without needing the supporting Barnes on his outside. The touchline conversion attempt was missed but the gap moved back to more than three scores. (36-12) Jack Lee made way for Freddie Holmes and five minutes later it was more than four scores. A frantic passage of play, where the ball was dropped backwards at least twice by both sides, ended with an attempted flick on by a Bournemouth player. As the ball dropped in space Will Sanderson was quickest to react and collected it for a forty-yard run in under the posts to which Anscombe added the extras. (43-12)
It is the season of goodwill and The Raiders obviously felt it would be churlish to send their visitors home empty handed. Successive penalties gave Bournemouth a lineout opportunity five metres out and their forwards battered the line for a try near the posts, which they converted. (43-19) The lure of a try bonus point saw the visitors redouble their efforts and further penalties, one of which earned Elliott Luke a yellow card for not retiring ten metres, saw them with another attacking lineout. Grant Gatford and Dan Peach replaced Litterick and Waters however the result was the same as before, although further from the posts. The conversion was missed but Bournemouth had a bonus point. (43-24)
With four minutes to play Bournemouth were still twelve points away from a losing bonus point and the game turned into an arm wrestle in their half, with the home crowd hoping for a final festive flourish from The Raiders. It was not to be and following a knock-on by Worthing the referee blew for no side.
So, the decade ended as it had begun, with a home win. An entertaining game for the crowd of almost six-hundred and for the home supporters the desired result, maximum points in December. The Raiders enter the Christmas break with seven wins from the last eight games and thirty-six points out of the last possible forty. Esher’s fixture having been postponed they drop below the Sussex side, who sit seventh in the table on forty-seven points. January will be a tough month, with games against four of the top five teams, three of them away from the Rugby Park but for now it is a Merry Christmas at Roundstone Lane.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 43 Bournemouth Lions 24
Referee: Sam Phillips
B&W Man of the Match: Jon Whittall
Scorers: Tries: Whittall, Gibson, Barnes x 2, Gwyther, Beer, Sanderson
Cons: Anscombe x 4
Team: 1. Sam Cook (Birch 48 min) 2. Jordan Gibson (Luke 48 min) 3. Rhys Litterick (Gatford 70 min) 4. Scott Barlow 5. Jack Lee (Holmes 66 min) 6. Jack Lake 7. Jon Whittall – Captain 8. Ryan Maguire 9. Calum Waters (Peach 70 min) 10. Henry Anscombe 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Tom Gwyther 13. John Dawe 14. Will Sanderson (Gibson 78 min) 15. Will Beer
Bench: 16. Elliott Luke 17. Grant Gatford 18. Henry Birch 19. Freddie Holmes 20. Dan Peach