It was an outstanding performance from all 20 members of the squad to win with the most testing of weather conditions at the most testing of venues... certainly, the best performance of the season by Raiders. It was an exhilarating game with both sides playing their part in entertaining the large crowd of over 800.
Well done also to the travelling Raiders’ supporters who will have faced the long journey home with smiles on their faces.
Raiders made the longest away trip of the season to Cornwall for probably the toughest game of the season so far as Redruth sit in first place in the league with a game in hand on Raiders, who currently sit in third place.
Ken Dowding, Elliott Quinton and Makeen Alikhan returned to the pack and Will Beer to the wing. Frank Taggart was selected on the bench for his first game as a Raider.
It is always going to be very difficult to win in front of the large, partisan Redruth crowd but Raiders knew they had the potential to beat any team in the league, but they would need to be at the top of their game to win this one. After travelling down on Friday night, the squad arrived at the Recreation Ground fresh and full of confidence for this contest.
The visitors won the toss and elected to play up the hill into the gale force wind. Redruth kicked off and kept the Raiders in their own territory for the first quarter of the game. When Redruth had the ball, the visitors defended brilliantly and didn’t allow them to score any points from their territorial domination. Kicking out of defence against the wind was not an option, so Raiders had to carry the ball in hand no matter how close to their try line. This they did remarkably well in the conditions. They were patient and precise in all that they tried to do with the possession they had.
The large crowd were in good voice and obviously expected their team to breach the visitors’ defence but after twenty minutes they had nothing to show for their efforts.
Raiders didn't get into the Redruth half until twenty minutes had been played but when they did, they made it count. Having patiently made their way up the slope the visitors lost possession just outside the home sides’ twenty-two metre line. As any sensible team would do in these conditions, they kicked for position, taking advantage of the slope and wind. Unfortunately, for the home side the wind being so strong, the ball ended up going over the dead ball line at the visitors’ end.
This gave Raiders a scrum just outside Redruth’s twenty-two metre line, for the next few minutes they were able to attack the Redruth defence close to their try line. Eventually, after several phases at close quarters Levi Davis joined the forwards as they pushed towards the line, and it was Levi who got the touchdown as the final drive crossed the line. Matt McLean converted to give the visitors a 7-0 lead after twenty-one minutes.
The home side knew that with the conditions the way they were they would expect to end the half with a lead big enough to defend in the second half when they had to face the elements. It only took five minutes for the home side to get their first points of the game, with an unconverted try in the twenty-eighth minute. Raiders defended two catch and drives but it was from a third one that the score came. The lead for the visitors was reduced to 7-5 with ten minutes to go to half time.
To go in with a lead after playing against such a strong wind was more than the visitors could have hoped for but that is exactly what happened, and the teams left the field for the shelter of the changing rooms with the visitors leading 7-5 after one of the best displays of defensive rugby you could hope to see. Half time score: Redruth 5 Worthing Raiders 7
With the elements massively in their favour Raiders kicked off to start the second half and within a minute they were awarded a penalty forty metres from goal in centre field. Matt McLean stepped up and with the help Will Beer to keep the ball on the tee, stroked the ball calmly between the posts to extend the lead to 10-5.
Shortly after another penalty was awarded to the visitors in centre field but, a little further away. Matt McLean again struck the ball nicely, but it sailed the wrong side of the upright. Redruth then had a good period of possession and were able to put pressure on the visitors’ defence in their half of the pitch. To the crowds’ delight this resulted in an unconverted try to level the scores at 10-10.
As the half progressed the Coach introduced fresh legs at regular intervals. Cam Dobinson for scrum half Rhys Morgan, Frank Taggart for Elliott Quinton in the back row, Elliott Luke for Henry Birch at hooker, Kieran Leeming for Henry Anscombe at fly half and Dan Sargent for Ken Dowding in the front row.
With a quarter of the match left to play Raiders were taking the upper hand with possession and territory. Although they used the wind to make ground by kicking, they looked at their best when moving the ball across the field searching for chinks in the Redruth defence.
Jack Forrest scored an exceptional individual try last week and this week he did it again. From just inside the Redruth half, he broke the first tackle, then stepped inside another attempted tackle and then outstripped all the defenders to dive in, Ashton-like, under the posts. Matt McLean converted to give the visitors a seven-point lead, 17-10.
Raiders were able to maintain the pressure on the home side's defence and in the twenty-third minute of the half it was Harrison Sims who made an outstanding break from the halfway line resulting in a final offload to Matt McLean who touched down in the left corner. Matt converted his own try and Raiders now had a 24-10 lead.
With ten minutes to play Makeen Alikhan was given a yellow card for an infringement in the ruck. Raiders’ fourteen players continued to play with confidence and didn’t look as if they would concede any points, in fact they came very close to extending their lead during this period.
With very little time left on the clock, Jack Forrest was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on. Despite this Raiders finished the game in total control and recorded only their second win at the Recreation Ground. Full time score: Redruth 10 Worthing Raiders 24
Referee: Iain Kiy
Scorers: Tries: Davis, Forrest, McLean. Con: McLean x 3. Pen: McLean
Raiders: 1 Ken Dowding 2. Henry Birch 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Jack Lee 5. Jack Lake 6. Elliott Quinton 7. Makeen Alikhan 8. Kemp Price – Capt 9. Rhys Morgan 10. Henry Anscombe 11. Will Beer 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Levi Davis 15. Matt McLean. Bench: 16. Elliott Luke 17. Dan Sargent 18. Frank Taggart 19. Cam Dobinson 20. Kieran Leeming.