Worthing Raiders come up short in high-scoring clash at high-flying Taunton Titans
Worthing Raiders suffered a 40-32 National 2 South defeat at high-flying Taunton as they returned to action after the Christmas break on Saturday.
The early season meeting between the two sides had produced a hatful of scores, with the Somerset side just edging the game although the Raiders collected two bonus points.
The return fixture also followed the same pattern.
The Raiders team remained largely unchanged from the side which defeated Bournemouth before the break, but this time Matt McLean was on the bench.
Taunton showed their intent by taking the game to the visitors from the start.
It took just three minutes for them to go 7-0 up through a try by Nick Mason, which Gary Kingdom converted.
Not to be outdone, the Raiders responded within a minute when a break down the wing by Will Sanderson was finished off by Will Beer and Henry Anscombe added the extras.
The game would continue in an end-to-end fashion for most of the afternoon.
On 11 minutes, the Titans again went ahead with a converted try from Greg Kitson.
But back came Worthing, with Jon Whittall responding four minutes later following hard work by the forwards to leave the visitors trailing 14-12.
Despite missing the conversion, Anscombe was on target three minutes later with a penalty to hand the Raiders a slender one-point advantage.
Now it was the home side’s forwards who ground out the hard yards to reclaim the lead through a converted try from Dan Lee.
The scoring continued and Worthing went back ahead soon after.
Jon Dawe reached the final kick through first then flicked the ball up to the supporting Tom Gwyther to touch down near the posts.
On the stroke of half time the home forwards again had their say and Ben Oliphant-Thompson’s converted try saw the home side go in at the break leading 28-22.
The second half started in the same frenetic style.
The Raiders closed the gap through a penalty, only for the Titans to increase their lead with an unconverted try by Jack Arnott.
The visitors’ backs again pounced almost from the restart, this time Dawe was able to complete himself and Anscombe’s conversion made it a one-point game at 33-32.
Understandably, the players were beginning to tire after such a fast-paced opening 50 minutes.
Both sides made changes and as the replacements took effect, the pace of the game dropped.
The Raiders continued to probe for the break which would bring the winning score but as the clock ticked down, it was Taunton who were attacking the visitors’ line.
When the referee produced a red card to dismiss Dawe the visitors’ hopes took a huge hit.
Taunton’s forwards again rumbled over for a last minute try and, cruelly, the conversion robbed Worthing of their losing bonus point as the hosts ran out 40-32 winners.
Worthing are on the road again this weekend as they travel to Redruth on Saturday.