Deadly Derrick clinches vital Worthing Raiders win over Westcombe Park
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Worthing were awarded the penalty after referee Phil Russell judged Combe to have made an infraction during the last scrum of the match.
Derrick slotted it home to break the deadlock.
It wasn’t his only valuable contribution in a star-man performance.
After Thomas Bowen finished an excellent cross-field play on an afternoon in which he scored two tries, the position of the conversion left Derrick a lot to do.
To the amazement of everyone, he scored from near the 22 on the extreme right wing to tie the game nine minutes before his match winning penalty.
In a first half largely played within the 22, Worthing opened the scoring with a catch and drive from hooker William Gearing-Grief.
Derrick got his misses out of the way early, failing on the only occasion to add the extras.
Worthing bettered Combe right from the off in set-pieces on an afternoon when scrums precipitated the action.
With the two props of Ben Featherstone and Fraser Bruce combining to 270kg, the same as a male grizzly bear anchoring the scrum, Combe struggled against Worthing’s Alaskan flavour.
They soon acclimatised, but not quick enough to deny Bowen getting his first of the afternoon on the half-hour mark as he started and finished a move to crash down on the left wing.
Louis Ellis notched up his 44th conversion to give the hosts a 12-point lead.
After beating third-placed Dorking a week earlier, the visitors from south-east London were going for their first back-to-back victories of the season.
On the stroke of half-time, Combe opened their account when Nicholas Cook snuck out of a scrum with an incisive run leaving Taine Wagstaff to touch down for the hooker’s third try of the season.
Nathan Wyman converted to leave them five adrift at the halfway point.
Combe steamrolled their way into the second half, taking eight minutes for Matthew Harrison to tie the game.
Wyman couldn’t add the extras on this occasion.
That wasn’t the end of their momentum, with Worthing one light for 10 minutes after Joe Knight was found to have tackled above the horizontal plane.
Combe took maximum advantage, establishing a seven-point lead when replacement prop Elliot Roofe found the try line from a catch and drive.
Wyman connected this time.
Worthing head coach Fred Pierrepont re-shuffled his pack and Ben Featherstone re-emerged in the second row, pushing skipper Jack Lake to the flank.
The changes had the desired effect, Featherstone finished a cross field play reaching for the try line.
He left Derrick his easiest task of the afternoon, converting from close range to once more tie the scores.
The pace didn’t relent, and neither did the visitors.
Thomas Bowen’s supreme last-ditch tackle proved futile as a quick Combe exchange set Kieran Thompson clear to score under the posts.
Wyman hit his 65th conversion for Westcombe Park to nose them ahead.
The two Thomas’ heroics snatched victory for the Raiders, leaving the visitors only two consolation bonus points as reward for their journey to the south-coast.
Elsewhere in National two east, the teams around Worthing in the standings had success.
Guernsey, who the Raiders play at home next week, beat Old Albanians 26-39.
The battle of the Raiders will be a crucial match as both sides and Wimbledon look to put distance between themselves and the drop zone.
Referee: Phil Russell
Tries: Gearing-Grief 16, Bowen 15, 70, Featherstone 63. Conversions: Ellis 31, Derrick 64, 71. Penalties: Derrick 80.
Team (15-9, 1-8): Thomas Bowen, Will Rawlinson, Thomas Derrick, Harrison Sims, Harry Forrest, Louis Ellis, Will Rigelsford; Fraser Bruce, Will Gearing-Grief, Ben Featherstone, Jack Lake (captain), Dan Macadams, Ed Grinsted, Joe Knight, Frank Taggart. Replacements: Ethan Clarke, Caleb Ashworth, Balazs Magda, Cam Dobinson, Charlie Clare.