Worthing Raiders lose to league leaders, but performance is improved
This week’s visitors to Roundstone Lane were league leaders Tonbridge Juddians.
After a difficult away game last week Raiders had prepared well, and confidence was high leading up to the game.
Selection as ever was difficult due to continued absence through injury. Sam Boyland being the latest casualty at Henley.
A reshuffle in the backs saw Matt McLean move to the wing, Tom Gwyther to full back and Henry Anscombe to fly half. David Langley made his league debut on the bench. Calum Waters was at scrum half. The pack that had performed well the previous week had only one change, Freddie Holmes moved to the bench and Jon Whittall started in the back row. The really good news for Raiders followers was that captain Liam Perkins was on the bench after almost a full year out with injury.
The week had been wet, and the pitch had greened up nicely. The surface was still good for a fast game. The rain was forecast to become heavy just at kick off time and it did.
Raiders kicked off attacking the southern end of the ground, but it wasn’t long before the visitors were on the attack. The home team’s defence was excellent and repelled many phases of play but eventually a converted try was conceded, 0-7.
Five minutes later the visitors extended their lead with an unconverted try, 0-12.
TJs’ big pack was used to catch and drive from lineouts and to make progress close to each ruck. The wet conditions certainly favoured this style of play.
By the midpoint in the half there had been no further scores and the home side were having more possession and territory without actually earning any points.
After twenty-five minutes Calum Waters was yellow carded and shortly after Scott Barlow left the game injured. Raiders performed well in this period even though a man down. An excellent fifty metre break by John Dawe nearly led to a try but the final pass unfortunately went to ground.
Matt McLean then kicked a penalty to close the gap to 3-12 after thirty-two minutes of the half. TJs scored an unconverted try from a catch and drive and further increased their lead, 3-17. Just before half time when the luck of the bounce went their way, they scored a converted try. Will Grief also left the field injured before the break.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 3 Tonbridge Juddians 24
TJs restarted the game after half time and they continued to play to their forwards in the wet, greasy conditions. High kicks were frequent but were dealt with competently by both sides.
Rhys Litterick received a yellow card for a scrummaging infringement, a decision that seemed harsh.
The home side played with great commitment and no lack of skill in poor conditions and against a side that must be odds on favourites for promotion. Eventually Raiders were rewarded with a try by Calum Waters which Matt McLean converted.
Just like last week Raiders fought back really well in the second half but still ended up three tries to one against. Another disappointing result but an improved performance with plenty to build on, unfortunately two more were added to the injury list that has plagued the squad through pre and early season.
Full time score: Worthing Raiders 10 Tonbridge Juddians 45
Many thanks to the near 400 crowd who braved the awful weather conditions to support the team.
Referee: Daniel Collins
Scorers: Tries: Waters Cons: McLean Pen: McLean
Team: 1.Grant Gatford (Cook 36 min) 2. Jordan Gibson (Luke 56 min) 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Scott Barlow (Holmes 26 min) 5. Jack Lake 6. Will Grief (Perkins 33 min) 7. Jon Whittall 8. Kiba Richards 9. Calum Waters 10. Henry Anscombe 11. Matt McLean – Captain 12. John Dawe 13. Jack Forrest 14. Harry Forrest 15. Tom Gwyther (Gatford 46 min) (Langley 76 min)
Bench: 16. Elliott Luke 17. Sam Cook 18. Liam Perkins 19. Freddie Holmes 20. David Langley