This week Raiders were on the road again travelling to Bristol to play Clifton.
Another very difficult fixture for them as the home side have made an excellent start to the season and are in fifth position going into this game.
Selection was again hampered by new and old injuries as well as unavailabilities. Calum Waters returned at scrum half with Henry Anscombe moving to fly half and Matt McLean to full back. Will Beer replaced the unavailable Harry Forrest on the wing. Will Fowler was injured in last week’s game and Freddie Holmes took over at blindside. Sam Cook, Ryan Maguire and Dan Cade were brought into the match day squad and took their places on the bench.
The weather had been wild over the previous twenty-four hours with gale force winds and continuous rain, however, during Saturday morning the rain relented but the wind seemed to strengthen.
By the time the game started the rain had returned with a vengeance, conditions did not favour any kind of open flowing game. Raiders played into the elements in the first half.
Clifton kicked off and quickly pounced on early errors by Raiders and after only a minute they took the lead with a penalty, 3-0.
The visitors soon got into their stride and were rewarded with an unconverted try when they put massive pressure on the Clifton scrum resulting in their scrum half being caught in possession, the ball was turned over and moved through several pairs of hands before John Dawe touched down to give Raiders the lead after fourteen minutes, 3-5.
Ten minutes later after Raiders had forced the Clifton scrum backwards, the home side still managed to get the ball away and score a converted try, 10-5.
From the restart Curtis Barnes outjumped the Clifton forwards to catch the ball and set up a good attacking position. The visitors earned a penalty and Matt McLean had a pot at goal but with the wind and rain in his face the kick drifted narrowly wide.
Raiders were playing well with good use of the kick but also managing some impressive passing moves.
A long, low kick deep into Clifton’s twenty-two metre area resulted in a five-metre line out to Raiders. Clinically they caught and drove the ball towards the line and Elliott Luke touched down to level the scores at 10-10.
Against the elements Raiders could be very pleased with the first half performance.
Half time score: Clifton 10 Worthing Raiders 10
Raiders restarted the game after the break with the elements clearly now in their favour. Within the first minute they came very close to scoring in the corner.
At this point the weather became monsoon-like for about ten minutes, Clifton playing against it could do nothing to relieve the pressure exerted by Raiders.
The visitors’ third try came after ten minutes when Curtis Barnes broke down the left wing and put a grubber kick beyond the defenders for Jack Forrest to outpace them to get the touchdown. Matt McLean converted to give Raiders a seven-point lead, 10-17.
The next ten minutes saw Clifton try to push Raiders back towards their try line, but their defence was looking solid and repelled them confidently.
Both teams inevitably made handling errors in the awful conditions, but it was the visitors who made the best use of their opponents’ errors.
Using the wind Raiders sensibly kicked to make ground into Clifton territory and thus avoid the chance of making errors in their own territory.
The ball went to ground after a tackle and Raiders kicked the ball forward on the floor forcing the last defender to carry the ball over his try-line and touch down. A five-metre scrum resulted to the visitors. There then followed a period of several minutes with Raiders going through phase after phase close to the line until eventually Calum Waters spotted a gap and was through to score the bonus point try under the posts. Matt McLean added the extras to extend the lead, 10-24, with about ten minutes left in the game.
Despite the wind and rain there was in fact quite a lot of very good rugby played by Raiders. Clifton fought hard but the visitors’ defence was immense in the second half and continued to frustrate them as they attempted to pick up a bonus point. The visitors defence remained secure to the final whistle.
As the whistle went for full time and the rain continued to drench the players and spectators. An excellent away win for Raiders.
Full time score: Clifton 10 Worthing Raiders 24
Many thanks to the travelling supporters who braved these terrible conditions and especially Henry Anscombe’s Fan Club who cheered every pass, kick and tackle made by Raiders.
Referee: Adam Wookey
Scorers: Tries: Dawe, Luke, J Forrest, Waters. Cons: McLean x 2
Team: 1. Henry Birch 2. Elliott Luke 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Liam Perkins – Captain 5. Jack Lake 6. Freddie Holmes 7. John Dawe 8. Kiba Richards 9. Calum Waters 10. Henry Anscombe 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Tom Gwyther 13. Jack Forrest 14. Will Beer 15. Matt McLean
Bench: 16. Jordan Gibson 17. Grant Gatford 18. Sam Cook 24. Ryan Maguire 20. Dan Cade.