Worthing Raiders bury Bury as club celebrate 100 years of rugby

Worthing Rugby Club hosted a day of celebrations to mark 100 years in existence - albeit a year late.

Raiders battle against Bury / Picture: Stephen Goodger
Raiders battle against Bury / Picture: Stephen Goodger

And Worthing Raiders made sure the day went with a bang as they treated the large sun-drenched crowd to an entertaining 29-21 win over familiar rivals Bury St Edmunds.

On a lovely, sunny, late summer afternoon and with both teams having won their first game of the season an exciting afternoon of rugby was on the cards. Selection for Raiders saw Cassius Cleaves, Will Hobson and Connor Slevin making their debut. Matt McLean moved to fly half as Kieran Leeming had the week off after the birth of his daughter in midweek. Jack Lake returned after unavailability the previous week and a certain amount of rotation took place in the front row.

Raiders attack / Picture: Stephen Goodger

The atmosphere was festive throughout the day and a crowd of well over 900 was on hand to cheer the two teams on. Bury kicked off defending the northern end of the ground. Both sides had spells with the ball in the opening minutes, but defence was strong and early attacks thwarted.

After seven minutes Raiders had a scrum in their half of the pitch. The ball moved swiftly and accurately across the back line until it reached Cassius Cleaves on the left wing. After an initial burst of pace, he breached the first line of defence before chipping ahead, Jack Forrest was quickly through to use his footballing skills to take the ball nearer the Bury goal line eventually gathering the ball in his hands to dive over the line to score the first try of the afternoon. Matt McLean converted. 7-0 after seven minutes.

Raiders were playing some attractive rugby and keeping Bury on the defensive. Cassius Cleaves made another telling break when he came off his wing to take the ball in midfield and create the initial momentum for the forwards to carry the ball through a couple of phases before Harrison Sims split the defence and set off to the try line. With the last defender to beat Harrison gave a well-timed pass inside to Matt McLean who romped in under the posts. Matt converted his own try to stretch the lead to 14-0 after 13 minutes.

Raiders were certainly on top at this stage and the backs looked as if they had more tries in them. Bury were doing all they could to defend and still looked dangerous when they got the chance to run the ball in open space. After 18 minutes more good handling between backs and forwards resulted Connor Slevin scoring a try which Matt McLean was unable to convert.

A battle against Bury / Picture: Stephen Goodger

At 19-0 the home side were looking good and making life very difficult for the visitors. Raiders continued to apply pressure, but Bury’s defence was solid and prevented any further tries for the home side. As Bury brought the ball out of defence a tackle by Jack Lee was deemed to be dangerous and he received a yellow card with about twelve minutes left in the half.

Bury were able to mount a serious attack from a lineout in Raiders' 22-metre area and after several phases of close, driving forward play Bury crossed the line to score their first points of the day through Matt Bursey. Cameron Greenhall converted to reduce the Raiders’ lead to 19-7, after half an hour.

Bury gained confidence from their score and came strongly at the home team but the fourteen Raiders defended well. Bury tried the high box kick and Connor Slevin collected it expertly under great pressure, from the ruck Matt McLean put in a fifty-metre kick deep into the Bury 22 metre area which put Raiders back in a good attacking position. From the lineout that followed Kemp Price and Ken Dowding both made meaningful charges with ball in hand eventually leading to Bury giving away a penalty 35 metres from goal. Matt McLean stepped up and sent the ball cleanly through the middle of the posts. Extending the lead to 22-7 with a few minutes left in the half.

Rhys Morgan went off injured at this point and Cam Dobinson replaced him. Jack Lee returned to the game after his yellow card. Tom Gwyther then had to leave the field injured after making a tackle in midfield. Moments later the referee whistled to signify the end of the half. Half time: Worthing Raiders 22 Bury St Edmunds 7

Raiders changed the whole of their front row, Ken Dowding, Nathan Jibulu and Rhys Litterick going off and Dan Sargent, Henry Birch and Will Hobson coming on. Raiders kicked off to start the second half attacking the southern end of the ground. Bury started the brighter and were quickly on the attack, Raiders’ defence was sound, and a penalty enabled Connor Slevin to clear into the visitors’ half.

Bury received a yellow card for repeated infringements and Raiders kicked to the corner to have an attacking lineout. From the lineout the home team were held up several times within a metre of the goal line until eventually Bury were awarded a penalty for Raiders holding on in a tackle. Rob Cuffe was replaced by Nathan Jibulu after ten minutes of the half.

Bury were now in the ascendancy and after applying pressure forced their way to the line for Shaquille Meyers to score a try, Greenhall converted thus, reducing the lead to 22-14. The home side continued to play expansive rugby, but good defence prevented further scores until Jack Lee charged down the scrum half’s attempted clearance kick close to the line. This gave Raiders a scrum five metres out and after several phases of play at close quarters Harrison sims slipped the defence with a dummy and turn of speed to score fifteen metres from touch. With Matt’s conversion the lead extended to 29-14.

Bury almost immediately bounced back with a Mike Stanway try, converted by Greenhall to close the gap to 29-21. With ten minutes to go Dan Sargent received a yellow card and the game looked to be in the balance once more. Both sides continued to play entertaining rugby but in this period most of the play was in the Bury 22-metre area. After a “squabble” Jack Forrest and the Bury full back were yellow carded. So, it was Bury who still had numerical advantage at 14 to 13 players. The final whistle went with Bury still trying to break out of their 22-metre area.

Final Score: Worthing Raiders 29 Bury St Edmunds 21

The game contained some outstanding rugby from Raiders in the first half and a pulsating contest as Bury fought their way back into the match in the second half. Many thanks to both teams and the supporters for making this a memorable day in the history of Worthing RFC

Referee: Jack Sutton

Proto Man of the Match: Connor Slevin

Attendance: 941


Tries: Jack Forrest, Matt McLean, Connor Slevin, Harrison Sims

Cons: Matt McLean x 3

Pens: Matt McLean

Raiders: Ken Dowding, 2. Nathan Jibulu 3. Rhys Litterick 4. Jack Lee 5. Will Scholes 6. Jack Lake 7. Rob Cuffe 8. Kemp Price 9. Rhys Morgan 10. Matt McLean 11. Cassius Cleaves 12. Harrison Sims 13. Jack Forrest 14. Tom Gwyther 15. Connor Slevin. Bench: 16. Dan Sargent 17. Henry Birch – Capt 18. Will Hobson 20. Jerome Rudder 21. Cam Dobinson.