Liam Perkins' 100th Worthing Raiders appearance ended with an opening-day National 2 South success for his side at Roundstone Lane this afternoon.
Raiders' skipper Perkins went over twice, while debutant Sam Hampson and Sam Boyland bagged tries to seal a bonus-point 27-22 triumph over London Irish Wild Geese.
Both teams avoided the drop from National 2 South on a tense final day last season and they played out an even battle for long periods. The scores were locked level at 19-19 with less than 15 minutes to play, before Matt McLean's penalty and a late Boyland try ensured Raiders edged it.
After five seasons at Roundstone Lane, Perkins ran out for his 100th club appearance, which he was delighted was marked with a win and said: "It was a perfect way for me to mark my 100th appearance for Raiders. I'm in to my fifth season at the club, so I'm starting to feel like one of the old boys now!
"The crowd were exceptional once again, creating a great amount of noise, to get two tries and the win made it even more pleasing.
"It was almost the perfect way to start with a five-point, bonus-try win. "We had a chat after the game about our management in matches. I felt at times we did all the right things, running the clock down and doing well in other areas, then had the confidence to go on and get a fourth try."
Raiders handed debuts to seven summer signings, while Jack Forrest was made his first home start.
Worthing were caught cold early doors, falling behind inside three minutes. Wild Geese worked the ball superbly, with Thomas Barker picking out Ben Kitching, who found Jack Cohen to get the opening try. Peter Hodgkinson converted to fire his side 7-0 in front.
Raiders responded well and opened their account for the new season 13 minutes later. The home side were dominate at a scrum and Perkins collected the loose ball, forcing his way over.. McLean made no mistake with his extras attempt to level things up at 7-7.
Parity lasted all of two minutes as London Irish Wild Geese went back ahead. Kiba Richards lost possession, which Reon Joseph made the most of, racing clear for his side's second try.
Once again Raiders showed great resilience, pulling things back before the interval. Perkins went over for his second of the game seven minutes before the break, while Hampson's debut try turned things around six minutes later.
Hampson went from hero to villain as he was shown a yellow card four minutes after the restart. A deliberate knock-on left Raiders a man light for ten minutes.
Wild Geese made the most of their one player advantage, levelling the scores up at 19-19 after 50 minutes. Zaina Alexis-Montout forced his way over to set-up a thrilling final 40 minutes.
The scores remained even until 15 minutes from time. McLean kept his cool to fire over a penalty and put Raiders 22-19 in front.
Boyland then all but secured an opening-day win for the home side, after racing clear three minutes from the end - bagging Raiders a fourth try bonus-point in the process.
There was still time for Hodgkinson to strike a late penalty but the home side held on for a 27-22 victory.
Raiders go to newly-promoted Wimbledon next Saturday (3pm)
RAIDERS: Head; Grief, Sargent, Spurgeon, Lake, Price, Dawe, Perkins; Walsh, McLean, Hampson, Forrest, Richards, Maslen, Leeming. Replacements: Harris, Worrall, Gatford, Adams, Boyland.
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