Barnes beaten as Worthing Raiders end fine rugby season with another victory

Worthing Raiders beat Barnes 25-24 in their final National two east game of the 2022-23 season – a thrilling game with excellent rugby from both sides to bring down the curtain on Raiders’ entertaining and successful campaign.
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The crowd thoroughly enjoyed the home side’s attacking play and the gritty defending that possibly made the difference between winning and losing - plus the theatrical climax of Alex Davies’ last-minute penalty from 45 metres that turned defeat into victory.

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It was a great end to a successful season for the Roundstone Lane outfit, which featured 18 wins and a final placing of fourth in the competitive league.

Worthing Raiders and Barnes do battle at Roundstone Lane | Picture: Stephen GoodgerWorthing Raiders and Barnes do battle at Roundstone Lane | Picture: Stephen Goodger
Worthing Raiders and Barnes do battle at Roundstone Lane | Picture: Stephen Goodger

With the visitors sitting in second place and the home team in fourth going into this final game, a spectacle of entertaining rugby was expected to close the 2022-23 season.

And that is exactly what the teams served up.

Raiders made two changes to the squad that had played the champions Blackheath the previous week: Matt McLean and Will Rigelsford replaced Iago Davies and Jack Lee.

Skipper Liam Perkins (182 appearances) and Matt McLean (308 appearances) were each playing their final game for Raiders before taking on new challenges in coaching.

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On a warm, sunny afternoon the game got under way in front of a crowd of nearly 700.

The early stages saw Barnes in control of possession but Raiders’ defence was strong and they were unable to score early points.

The first points of the afternoon came after 20 minutes when Barnes scored a converted try to lead 0-7.

McLean replied almost immediately with a penalty to close the gap to 3-7.

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After 26 minutes the visitors scored a second converted try to extend their lead to 3-14 and hopes of a home win to end the campaign appeared to be receding.

From deep in Raiders’ territory Tom Bowen broke out of defence and fed the ball to Jack Forrest who set off down the right touchline.

He then chipped over the approaching defenders and regathered the ball.

The defence managed to pull him down just short of the line but Raiders recycled the ball and Sam Evans put in a long cross kick to Curtis Barnes on the left wing.

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As he was tackled he released the ball to Dan Sargent who managed to scoop up the bouncing ball and dive over in the corner.

The conversion was missed but the gap was reduced to 8-14.

Raiders came close to another try after Barnes and Liam Perkins combined to break down the left touchline, only to see the ball knocked on in the tackle just short of the try line.

Raiders took the lead before half-time when they took a tap penalty five metres from the Barnes’ try line, eventually Elliott Luke touched down and McLean converted, 15-14.

As usual Raiders made good use of their bench and brought fresh legs on regularly through the second half.

The home side were next to score.

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From a lineout on their own twenty-two Charlie Clare decided to go down the blindside giving the ball to Barnes who went through several tackles until getting to the Barnes’ 22m line.

His pass inside saw Harrison Sims sprinting for the line, but unfortunately he was brought down just short.

The ball came back quickly from the ruck and Sam Evans put another long cross kick to the right wing, where Tom Derrick collected and touched down.

McLean successfully added the extras to take the home side into a 22-14 lead.

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Barnes are not second in the league by chance and they fought back to retake the lead with a converted try and a penalty, 22-24.

Time was running out for Raiders but they continued to attack with confidence until with only moments left in the game, they were awarded a penalty on the Barnes 10m line 15m from touch.

The decision was made to try to win the game with a shot at goal rather than risk going to the corner.

McLean felt it was just out of his range and so Davies stepped up and demonstrated great skill and calmness to send the kick flying between the posts from 45m.

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With seconds left on the clock the home side now took the lead at 25-24.

Barnes sprinted back to the halfway and kicked off trying to catch Raiders unawares but the home side were back in place and collected the kick, executed a couple of rucks and then kicked the ball into touch to end the match.

Referee: Alex Rose

Attendance: 683

Scorers: Tries: Sargent, Luke, Derrick. Cons: McLean (2). Pens: McLean, A. Davies

Raiders: 1 Fraser Bruce 2. Elliott Luke 3. Dan Sargent 4. Jack Lake 5. Frank Taggart 6. Tom Sunray 7. Jonny Smith 8. Liam Perkins – Captain 9. Charlie Clare 10. Sam Evans 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Tom Bowen 15. Matt McLean. Bench: 16. Jack Doorey-Palmer 17. Grant Gatford 20. Tom Derrick 22. Alex Davies 23. Will Rigelsford.

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Men of the Match: Liam Perkins and Matt McLean presented by Ellie Beattie and of Oxhouse Square, match sponsors.

Editor’s note: The Worthing Herald and would like to thank Colin Coulson and Stephen Goodger for their coverage of the Raiders’ season. Colin has provided match reports from every one of Raiders’ 26 league games and has also been the photographer at away games, while Stephen has been to each of the Raiders’ 13 home games. We appreciate their efforts.

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