Worthing Raiders beat OId Albanian in a real rugby classic

Worthing Raiders beat National 2 East leaders Old Albanian 38-20 in what some spectators said was the best match they’d ever seen at Roundstone Lane.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

It was certainly a pulsating game of rugby featuring some outstanding individual and team tries on show plus brilliant defensive play especially from Raiders.

To have a player sent off after 12 minutes and go on to win against the league leaders is quite some achievement. Although there was a red card and three yellow cards in the game it was not a dirty game, in fact it was played in great spirit between the two sides.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The game at times was quite manic and difficult to keep up with as tries, substitutions, injuries and sin bins were occurring every few minutes.

Worthing Raiders and Old Albanian go toe to toe | Picture: Stephen Goodger - see more in the link to the galleryWorthing Raiders and Old Albanian go toe to toe | Picture: Stephen Goodger - see more in the link to the gallery
Worthing Raiders and Old Albanian go toe to toe | Picture: Stephen Goodger - see more in the link to the gallery

This win put Raiders in fourth place in the National 2 East league with 25 points, just one point behind the leaders.

Man pf the Match could have gone to any of the Raiders’ squad but eventually it was between Curtis Barnes and Tom Bowen for their outstanding contributions and in the end went to Curtis.

Thanks as always went to the crowd for their wonderful support which no doubt helped the team enormously during those periods when Raiders were down to thirteen men.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Although Raiders were in sixth position in the league at the start of play, only four points separated the two teams prior to kick off.

The Raiders’ squad had four changes in personnel from the side that played at Bury St Edmunds. Jonny Green, Zach Carr and Kieran Leeming returned to the side and Jamie Ure was making his first appearance since re-joining the club after first playing as a youngster in 2015/16.

With playing conditions pretty much perfect an open, competitive and skilful game was expected. Whoever could have imagined what an outstanding game of rugby was about to unfold.

A crowd of over five hundred was in attendance as Old Albanian kicked off defending the northern end of the ground in the first half.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In the early minutes of the game the visitors looked like a side at the top of the league and kept the pressure on the home team until after eight minutes they scored and unconverted try to take the lead at 0-5.

With twelve minutes played and already several penalties awarded against the home side the most controversial moment of the game occurred when Fraser Bruce received a red card for a high tackle. The tackle was powerful but at no stage appeared to make any contact with the player above the shoulders.

With sixty-eight minutes to play Raiders were up against it having to play one man down for the rest of the game.

Despite the one-man advantage and the penalty count against the home side the visitors couldn’t make any more additions to their score for the next fifteen minutes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

An injury to one of the visitors caused the game to be held up for ten minutes and the players returned to the changing rooms whilst the medics dealt with the situation.

In order to bring on a prop to replace Fraser Bruce, Zach Carr was removed to the bench and Jackson Clark took over in the front row.

With twenty minutes played Raiders hadn’t had any possession to play with and were constantly defending but defending really well.

With the penalty count against the home side still climbing the visitors found themselves on the offensive deep in the twenty-two and eventually scored from close range. The conversion was again unsuccessful. At this point the Raiders’ scrum half, Cam Dobinson, was yellow carded for a high tackle and at 0-10 and only thirteen men on the field things were looking bleak for the Raiders.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Alex Davies came on to play at scrum half and Fergus Guiry was sacrificed for the period of the yellow card.

As often happens in such circumstances the visitors couldn’t find a way to take advantage of their numerical supremacy and in a complete turn around in the game the home side became totally dominant and scored three unanswered tries before half time while playing with thirteen men.

The spirit and skill shown in adversity by Raiders was almost unreal and the rugby exhibited quite sublime.

With thirty minutes played Curtis Barnes made a typical searing break down the left touchline from deep in the Raiders’ half, eventually he was brought down close to the visitors’ try line. Several thrusts were then made by the forwards before the ball went back to Curtis on the left wing and he romped in to score the try that put the home side on the scoreboard. The conversion was missed but the visitors’ lead was reduced to 5-10.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Old Albanian restarted the game by kicking deep into Raiders’ twenty-two, Harrison Sims collected the kick and made ground forward before being tackled, as he was going to ground he offloaded a delicate pass into the hands of Tom Bowen who streaked off down the field, avoiding many attempted tackles to score a quite extraordinary individual try. Harrison Sims converted and against all odds the home side had taken the lead at 12-10.

The visitors seemed a little shell shocked at this point and only a couple of minutes later Tom Bowen received a kick out of defence and quite simply skinned the defence on the outside before linking up with his fellow backs and Jack Forrest finished the move by scoring in the corner. Harrison Sims failed with the difficult conversion but with some magical rugby the home side had turned a 0-10 deficit into a 17-10 lead whilst playing two men short.

Will Hoare replaced Jonny Green shortly before the break and as the visitors renewed their attacking game the home side were forced to defend. The defence they put up was outstanding and even when they received yet another sin binning for Jack Lake the thirteen-man rear guard action was exceptional.

The half came to a close with the crowd enthralled by the breath taking first half performance.

Half time score: Worthing Raiders 17 Old Albanian 10

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Raiders kicked off to start the second half knowing they had another nine minutes to play with only thirteen men on the field.

An early penalty attempt by Alex Davies narrowly missed but used up one of those minutes.

With five minutes of the half played the powerful defence put up by Raiders in midfield saw them steal the ball in the tackle and Curtis Barnes was again put away with a bit of space to work with and from fifty metres he never looked like being stopped and scored the bonus point try for the home side. Alex Davies converted and the thirteen men now had a 24-10 lead.

With the sin bin completed Jamie Ure joined the game to bring the home side back to fourteen men.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The visitors played good, attacking rugby, offloading in the tackle and maintaining good continuity in their play . At this time, they could not break down the defence and Raiders just kept bouncing back with more super rugby.

With twelve minutes of the half played Old Albanian had a player yellow carded and for the first time since the twelfth minute the teams had even numbers.

A great line kick from a penalty put Raiders deep in Old Albanian’s territory, with possession following from the ensuing line out. After several phases of play Old Albanian were penalised and again Alex Davies kicked the ball into touch, five metres from the visitors’ line. Following the line out the home side earned a scrum near the right-hand touch line. Frank Taggart picked up from the base of the scrum and engaged the defence before the ball was moved towards the opposite side of the pitch. A long miss pass was thrown to Curtis Barnes on the wing and he did exactly what everyone in the crowd expected – using his pace he went outside the defence and sprinted in to score Raiders’ fifth try of the day. Alex Davies converted from the touch line and as the final quarter of the match approached the home side had what now looked like a comfortable lead at 31-10.

Tom Hatch replaced Elliott Luke in the front row and shortly after Cam Dobinson returned in place of Alex Davies. At this stage the coaches were making tactical substitutions at regular intervals to maintain the intensity in attack and more importantly in defence.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Old Albanian were at the top of the league for a good reason and it was at this point that they got their act together and looked really dangerous as they threw everything into trying to close the gap on Raiders. Thus, it was that they scored two unconverted tries in five minutes to close the gap to 31-20. The visitors had a chance to close the gap further but the final scoring pass went forward and Raiders relieved the pressure from the ensuing scrum.

The physical effort of playing three-quarters of the game with fourteen players and a quarter of the game with only thirteen was obviously taking its toll on Raiders. However, through these final moments of the game the defence by the home side was excellent and as the visitors pressed hard deep in Raiders’ territory it was they who had the last say in the game when Tom Bowen intercepted a pass and ran the length of the field to score under the posts, Harrison Sims converted and the final whistle went.

Referee: Mike Lamb

Attendance: 528

Scorers: Tries: Barnes (3), Bowen (2), Forrest, Cons: Sims (2), Davies (2)

Team: Fraser Bruce 2. Elliott Luke 3. Dan Sargent 4. Jack Lake 5. Jonny Green 6. Rob Ure 7. Zach Carr 8. Frank Taggart – Captain 9. Cam Dobinson 10. Kieran Leeming 11. Curtis Barnes 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Tom Bowen 15. Fergus Guiry. Bench: 16. Tom Hatch 17. Jackson Clark 18. Jamie Ure 24. Will Hoare 22. Alex Davies

Man of the Match: Curtis Barnes who was presented with his award by Jason Webb of ETI Ltd, match day sponsors. Many thanks went to ETI Ltd – their support is greatly appreciated.

Related topics: