This was not a good performance by Raiders even though they created enough chances to win.
You cannot give a side like Henley a 21-point lead in the first 15 minutes and expect to win. Individual errors rather than team errors were a major factor in the defeat.
But it’s back to Roundstone Lane this Saturday when fans hope to see Raiders beat Hinckley.
Levi Davis and Elliott Quinton were making their league debuts for the club. Elliott Luke his first appearance after re-joining the club, Tom Gwyther was back after a lengthy absence through injury. Will Beer, Dan Sargent, Kieran Leeming and Joe Spurgeon were also back in the squad.
Henley were on the attack straight away. With only two minutes played Cam Dobinson put up a box kick only to see the home side run the ball back, splitting the defence to score a converted try, 7-0.
It didn’t take Henley long to notch a second converted try, similar to the first in that it came from a Raiders’ kick out of defence that gave Henley the chance to run back at a reforming defensive line.
14-0 after nine minutes.
Henley soon had their third converted try to lead by 21-0.
Raiders had made a woeful start with the defence all at sea. Missed first up tackles and simple errors were making life difficult.
Raiders scored their first try after 20 minutes from a well-constructed catch and drive, with Ken Dowding getting the touchdown. Matt McLean converted from the touchline, 21-7.
Raiders then scored another textbook catch and drive try, this time Henry Birch touched down. McLean converted, 21-14.
But in the 28th minute the home side scored an unconverted try to open up the lead to 26-14.
Jack Lake replaced Joe Spurgeon and Raiders settled into some good attacking rugby, twice creating chances that just needed the final pass that wasn’t made.
Luke replaced Henry Birch and Beer replaced Gwyther at the start of the second half.
With only two minutes of the half gone the visitors attacked from deep in their own territory, the ball was kicked ahead and Levi Davis outpaced the defence to touch down.
The conversion was missed but the gap had closed to 26-19.
A few minutes later Henley’s box kick clearance was taken magnificently by Harrison Sims, and Raiders were able to build pressure.
Raiders had a lineout on the Henley 22m line and the catch and drive that followed moved them to within a few metres of the goal line.
The forwards pounded the home defence and eventually Jack Lee burst through the tacklers and scored Raiders’ fourth and bonus point try. McLean converted and it was 26-26.
Birch returned to the front row in place of Dowding.
Quinton received a yellow card for an infringement at the ruck.
Henley were quick to capitalise with a converted try from a catch and drive, 33-26.
Sargent replaced Rhys Litterick and Raiders had a penalty shot at the posts, but it narrowly missed.
This was shortly followed by Henley kicking a penalty at the other end to extend their lead to 36-26.
Kemp Price was replaced by Joe Spurgeon for the final few minutes. Raiders threw everything into the attack but it was Henley that had the final say with another converted try.