Worthing Raiders pay penalty as Henley Hawks win at Roundstone Lane

Worthing Raiders lost 30-26 to Henley Hawks in another absorbing afternoon of rugby at Roundstone Lane – and were left hugely disappointed not to have won.

It was an exciting second half but the result was very disappointing as Raiders looked as though they had done enough to win this match. In the end the game hinged on the five penalties awarded to the visitors in the last few minutes which allowed them to snatch the victory.

Only one bonus point was achieved despite all the good work produced in the second half.

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With Raiders in fourth place and Henley in sixth and only two points separating them in the league another well contested game was expected.

Yet again selection had not been easy due to the continued absence of players through injury and unavailability. Ethan Clarke, Jamie Ure, Alex Davies, Ben Waghorn, Jack Doorey-Palmer and Zach Carr all returned to the squad.

Although it had rained pretty much all week in the build-up to this game the pitch was in good condition at the start. Unfortunately, it rained from first thing in the morning and continued throughout the match. The pitch got heavier and more difficult for players to keep their feet. The ball at times appeared to be like a bar of soap and so an open, expansive game was never going to entertain the good-sized crowd that had braved the weather to watch.

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After much open, running rugby in the previous eight games this one was definitely not entertaining in its content but was very exciting as the two teams were so well matched.

Raiders kicked off into the wind attacking the southern end of the ground. It was immediately obvious how difficult it was to handle the ball with any confidence in the open and in contact. In fact it was a bit of a lottery for most of the first half.

In the first few minutes both sides had a shot at goal when awarded penalties but both missed. After 14 minutes Henley successfully kicked a penalty to take the lead 0-3. Will Hoare was replaced after fifteen minutes by Frank Taggart due to injury. In the 15th minute Raiders equalised with a penalty by Davies.

Raiders managed to settle into some solid rugby and were building a good attack on the Henley twenty-two when the ball was fumbled, picked up and kicked down the field by the visitors and then in a foot race to the line the Henley player got the touch down. With the successful conversion the visitors went into a 3-10 lead.

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On 35 minutes Elliott Luke received a yellow card and from the resulting penalty Henley stretched their lead with a successful shot at goal, 3-13. Jack Doorey-Palmer joined the game as hooker and Ure was sacrificed during the yellow card period. Just prior to half time Davies kicked a penalty to close the gap to 6-13.

Half time score: Worthing Raiders 6 Henley Hawks 13

Will Rigelsford replaced Cam Dobinson at scrum half for the start of the second half. Henley kicked off playing against the elements. Raiders still had nearly six minutes to play with 14 men before the sin bin period was complete.

Sadly, for the home side Henley scored a converted try when they pushed the Raiders scrum back over their own try line while still down to fourteen men. The lead now extended to 6-20.

Carr joined the game at the end of the yellow card period to bring Raiders back up to 15 players. The home side built a good attack which ended with Dan Sargent being held up over the line. The goal line drop out went straight into touch and Raiders now had a line out on the visitors’ five metre line. The catch and drive worked effectively and the home side crossed the line with Doorey-Palmer touching down. With the conversion unsuccessful the Henley lead was reduced to 13-20.

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From the restart the bar of soap was not caught cleanly and within seconds the visitors had scored another try, which they failed to convert, 13-25.

Raiders came straight back and an excellent backs move, considering the conditions, saw Curtis Barnes put Tom Bowen away to touch down in the corner. After the referee consulted with the touch judge the try was ruled out and a lineout was awarded to the visitors.

The home side continued to press and were rewarded after 14 minutes of the half when Harrison Sims finished off some good handling to touch down and close the gap to 18-25.

Raiders were now playing well and stretching the Henley defence. The visitors defended well and despite some close calls came away unscathed. Taggart was replaced by Ure after 20 minutes of the half.

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Jack Forrest effected a good interception, Liam Perkins turned Henley possession over at a ruck, Rigelsford made a great little break up the touch line but sadly none of these incidents led to points. After 23 minutes Jackson Clark replaced Ethan Clarke in the front row.

Raiders continued to apply pressure deep in Henley territory and a good low kick by Bowen resulted in a race to get the touch down, but again this attack ended with a goal line drop out to the visitors.

An excellent kick in open play by Davies produced a 50-22 situation, however the officials failed to give the lineout to Raiders and allowed the visitors to take a quick throw and relieve the pressure. How small things change the final outcome.

Rigelsford then made a great break splitting the Henley defence. At the breakdown the visitors received a yellow card, from the ensuing scrum there were several close quarter phases before Sargent touched down. With the conversion missed the Henley lead was reduced to two points, 23-25.

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Soon Davies put a lovely chip over the onrushing defence and Rigelsford collected it on the full. When he went to ground and the ruck was formed Raiders were awarded a penalty and Davies stepped up and slotted the ball through the middle of the posts to take the lead at 26-25.

The final moments of the game were a disaster for Raiders. More good work led to a lineout five metres from the Henley line but the home side were penalised and the visitors cleared their lines. In the next couple of minutes the referee awarded four penalties against Raiders. The last one allowed Henley to have a lineout within touching distance of the Raiders’ try line. Rigelsford was yellow carded and the inevitable happened, the visitors got a catch and drive try to win the game with the last play.

Referee: Phil Russell

Attendance: 385

Scorers: Tries: Doorey-Palmer, Sims, Sargent. Cons: Davies. Pen: Davies (3)

Raiders: Ethan Clarke 2. Elliott Luke 3. Dan Sargent 4. Jack Lake 5. Jamie Ure 6. Will Hoare 7. Rob Ure 8. Liam Perkins – Captain 9. Cam Dobinson 10. Alex Davies 11. Ben Waghorn 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Tom Bowen 15. Curtis Barnes. Bench: 16. Jack Doorey-Palmer 17. Jackson Clark 20. Zach Carr 22. Will Rigelsford 24. Frank Taggart

MoM: Will Rigelsford (presented by match sponsors Michael Jones & Company)

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