Late rally gives Worthing Raiders a point but they’re beaten at Barnes

Worthing Raiders lost 49-26 at Barnes when they returned to National two east action after a long break over the festive season.
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With the battle at the lower end of the league very tight it is vital for Raiders to keep picking up points against teams from higher up the league. The point earned here this loss could be very important by the end of the season.

Raiders played well in the first and last quarter of the game but lost it either side of half time. Now it’s back to Roundstone Lane next Saturday for a big match against Westcombe Park.

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With key players still out injured six changes were made to the squad from that which played Dorking in the last game of 2023. Ethan Clarke, Will Rawlinson, James Maher, Leo Ravaudet, Tom Sunray and Fin Glass came in but skipper Jack Forrest joined the injured list along with Ed Grinsted, Curtis Barnes, Fraser Bruce, Iago Davies and Tom Derrick.

Jack Doorey-Palmer, on the charge for Worthing at Barnes | Picture: Colin CoulsonJack Doorey-Palmer, on the charge for Worthing at Barnes | Picture: Colin Coulson
Jack Doorey-Palmer, on the charge for Worthing at Barnes | Picture: Colin Coulson

Barnes kicked off and three quick penalties against Raiders put the home side in prime position to use the powerful forwards to score their first converted try, 7-0.

From the restart the visitors gained possession and used it well to develop an expansive attack. When the hosts were penalised, Louis Ellis made touch close to the try line and from the ensuing lineout the forwards drove the ball over the line for Frank Taggart to touch down. Ellis converted and after fifteen minutes the scores were level at 7-7.

Barnes continued to use the pack as their main attacking weapon and after another run of three penalties in quick succession against Raiders, they scored another converted try from close range, 14-7.

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With 25 minutes played Raiders were in possession and again building an attack using the width of the pitch. With a ruck on the home side’s ten metre line Will Rigelsford spotted the chance to make a break from the base and out-paced the cover from forty-metres out to dive under the posts. With Ellis adding the extras the scores were again equal at 14-14.

Ethan Clarke looks for daylight | Picture: Colin CoulsonEthan Clarke looks for daylight | Picture: Colin Coulson
Ethan Clarke looks for daylight | Picture: Colin Coulson

With ten minutes left in the half a charged down clearance kick by the visitors enabled the hosts to retake the lead with another converted try, 21-14.

Although Raiders looked dangerous with ball in hand and kept Barnes on their toes in defence, they were unable to turn pressure into points. Barnes took advantage of mistakes and scored two more converted tries before half-time, extending their lead to 35-14 at the break.

Raiders restarted the game after half-time and were hoping to overcome the deficit by being patient and less careless in their approach play. Unfortunately, it was the home side who added another converted try within a couple of minutes.

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With Barnes’ lead now 42-14 the visitors set about the task of scoring two more tries to earn themselves a bonus point. Finlay Glass, Cam Dobinson, Leo Ravaudet and Balazs Magda were all introduced early in the second half replacing Grant Gatford, James Maher, Will Gearing-Grief and Ethan Clarke.

Raiders put themselves in good positions on the field when a rash of three penalties by Barnes ultimately gave them a lineout five metres from the try line. The catch and drive that followed was thwarted by good defence from the home side. Things got worse for the visitors when Barnes again scored from a scrum five metres from the try line. The win now secure with the score at 49-14.

The spirit and skills of the squad were now being seriously tested – and to a man they rose to the occasion.

The final 15 minutes was all out expansive, attacking rugby from the visitors, constantly probing the Barnes’ defensive line in search of a way through. Raiders eventually scored their third try when Harry Forrest found the outside edge of the defence wide on the left and sprinted in from thirty metres. With the conversion missed the gap closed to 49-19 but more importantly at this stage gave Raiders a real chance of getting a bonus point.

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Under the now relentless pressure from Raiders, Barnes had a player yellow carded. From a quick tap penalty, the visitors continued to move the ball at pace until Bowen spotted a gap in the defensive lines and was through it in a flash and away to the try line to touch down. Ellis drop kicked the conversion and closed the gap to 49-26.

Although the visitors continued to attack up to the final whistle there was no further score.

Referee: Alex Rose

Scorers: Tries: Taggart, Rigelsford, H Forrest, Bowen. Cons: Ellis (3).

Team: 1. Ethan Clarke 2. Jack Doorey-Palmer 3. Grant Gatford 4. Jack Lake – Captain 5. Dan Macadams 6. Will Gearing-Grief 7. Joe Knight 8. Frank Taggart 9. Will Rigelsford 10. Louis Ellis 11. Will Rawlinson 12. Harrison Sims 13. Harry Forrest 14. James Maher 15. Tom Bowen. Replacements: 16. Fin Glass 17. Balazs Magda 18. Tom Sunray 19. Leo Ravaudet 20. Cam Dobinson.

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