Canterbury tale is a happy one as Worthing Raiders win again

Worthing Raiders kept up the pace near the top of National two south with a 33-19 triumph over Canterbury in front of another large and appreciative Roundstone Lane crowd.

Rhys Morgan goes through for Worthing Raiders' fifth - and best - try of the day against Canterbury / Picture: Stephen Goodger

This was win No11 for Raiders and a further five points in the league keeps them in fourth position. There were many excellent performances for Raiders including Jerome Rudder with a hat-trick of tries, Frank Taggart with his powerful breaks and the excellent goal kicking from Matt McLean. Thanks went to the great support from the home crowd.

After an excellent win on the road at Bury St Edmunds the previous week Raiders returned to Roundstone Lane for game 16 versus Canterbury who had just edged the victory over Raiders earlier in the season.

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Selection continues to be a bit of a lottery for all clubs as they deal not only with player injuries but also the week-by-week unavailabilities caused by Covid. Very difficult to field a settled side. This week Raiders were able to select the same starting pack as last week. Connor Slevin returned to start in the backs after a long time out due to injury and Jon Whittall, Will Scholes and Rhys Morgan were all selected to be on the bench after injury and Covid.

Ken Dowding scores the Raiders' second try / Picture: Stephen Goodger

It was a dry day and the pitch was in good condition for an open game. The crowd of well over 400 expected an exhilarating match and that is exactly what they got. Raiders kicked off attacking the southern end of the ground and were quickly into their stride with good early use of the ball in Canterbury territory.

The first score for Raiders came after four minutes when the ball was moved across the backs towards the left wing, McLean made a half break and then released the ball to Rudder who broke through the attempted tackles of the defence to score in the corner. McLean converted from the touchline to give the home side a 7-0 lead. Five minutes later the game was back on level pegging when the visitors scored an unconverted try. (7-5)

The game was very open and both sides were prepared to attack from all parts of the pitch with ball in hand. With twelve minutes played, as a result of a high tackle Raiders were awarded a penalty, which they kicked to touch near the visitors’ try line. From the lineout the home side set up a drive, from which several phases followed before Ken Dowding crossed the line for Raiders’ second try. This was unconverted and left the home side with a 12-5 lead.

Throughout the second quarter of the game there was much good rugby to be seen from both sides although the home side were able to play most of theirs in visitors’ territory. During a good spell of Canterbury possession in midfield, the Raiders’ defence thwarted their attempts to make any progress. This pressure eventually resulted in Raiders earning a lineout not far from the visitors try line. The resulting catch and drive was held up over the line and no points were achieved.

A similar scenario occurred a few minutes later, when frustratingly for the home side a catch and drive was again held up over the line. Canterbury worked their way into Raiders’ half and with three minutes left in the half were awarded a penalty. They chose to have a shot at goal but the kick sailed wide and so the score remained 12-5.

As half time approached it was looking like one of those days when all the pressure and exciting attacking play from Raiders was not going to achieve the rewards it deserved. Chances were created but not taken and thus at half time the home side had a narrow lead. Half time score: Worthing Raiders 12 Canterbury 5

Canterbury kicked off now defending the northern end of the ground. The visitors were quickly on the attack and scored a converted try from a lineout to bring the scores level at 12-12. Were the chances missed in the first half going to be regretted by the home side? To compound the issue the restart by the home side didn’t go ten metres and the visitors were back on the attack with a scrum on the halfway line.

Raiders’ defence held firm and soon they were back on the attack. Another near miss occurred when Taggart picked up from the base of the scrum and burst through the defence making 20 metres or so before being pulled to ground, the resulting off load didn’t go quite to hand with the try line only five metres away.

With about ten minutes of the half gone the home side started to use the bench. Jon Whittall replaced Jack Lee and Fraser Bruce replaced injured Liam Perkins. To add to the drama Dowding received a yellow card. Suddenly things were looking good for Canterbury and they did all they could to break the Raiders’ defence but after fifteen minutes of the half it was the home side who notched the next score.

From a lineout five metres from the visitors’ try line Raiders set up a catch and drive, play developed through five phases before the ball was quickly moved to the left wing for Rudder to score in the corner. McLean converted from the touchline to take the lead to 19-12.

With Dowding back on, Will Scholes joined the action as his replacement. Cam Dobinson was replaced by Rhys Morgan. Within a couple of minutes, the game was back to all square when Canterbury scored a converted try, 19-19. Another tense climax at Roundstone Lane looked to be on the cards.

With fifteen minutes left on the clock Raiders ignited into some electrifying running rugby with backs and forwards all involved as the ball was moved at speed searching for the gaps in the defence. Eventually a whippet like run from Will Beer saw him make thirty metres before being swallowed up in a double tackle, the ball was quickly recycled and moved back to the left, Will Scholes then had a thirty-metre canter before off-loading to Rudder who sprinted the final twenty-five metres to score his third try of the afternoon wide on the left. Matt McLean again converted from the touchline to put the home side back in front, 26-19.

With the try bonus point secured It was still anyone’s game with fourteen minutes to play. Canterbury were on the attack when at a breakdown Elliott Luke and one of the Canterbury props both received a yellow card for some minor infringement.

With ten minutes still to play possibly the try of the day was scored by Raiders. From the home side's ten metre line and close to the touchline Taggart picked up the ball and side-stepped the first defender before rampaging down the touchline for thirty metres before passing inside to Morgan who sprinted to the posts to score the try which again McLean converted.

The lead, now 33-19, looked a little more secure. Max Ravaudet came on when the next scrum occurred and skipper Kemp Price was replaced. In the final minutes the game became quite frantic as the visitors threw everything into trying to get another converted try in order to gain a losing bonus point.

With time up on the yellow card Luke and Price returned for the final four minutes and Max returned to the bench. Canterbury came close to scoring near the end but Raiders held them up over the line and were able to defuse the pressure with a goal line drop out. Raiders had control of the ball when time was up and put it into the crowd to end this entertaining end-to-end game.

Full time score: Worthing Raiders 33 Canterbury 19

Proto Food Group Man of the Match: Jerome Rudder

Scorers: Tries: Rudder x 3, Dowding, Morgan. Cons: McLean x 4

Team: Ken Dowding 2. Elliott Luke 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Jack Lee 5. Jack Lake 6. Liam Perkins 7. Kemp Price – captain 8. Frank Taggart 9. Cam Dobinson 10. Connor Slevin 11. Jerome Rudder 12. Josh Tusler 13. Jack Forrest 14. Will Beer 15. Matt McLean. Bench: 16. Fraser Bruce 17. Max Ravaudet 18. Jon Whittall 19. Will Scholes 20. Rhys Morgan.

Referee: Mike Lamb

Attendance: 425