Worthing Raiders sign off tough season with 71-19 win – and safety

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Worthing Raiders beat North Walsham 71-19 in National two east in their final game – a typical end-of-season match with lots of excellent, expansive rugby from both teams.

Although it was 11 tries to three the visitors showed great spirit. For Raiders it was a mixed season and a disappointing final league position of 12th – but 23 bonus points show many of the defeats were close affairs.

They ended nine points clear of the relegation places. Plenty of positives can be taken forward into next season when Raiders will hope to be back in the top half of the league. Thanks go to all those who have supported the team at home and away matches, greatly appreciated by players and coaches.

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For this final game neither side had any pressure on them so open play and lots of tries were anticipated. Raiders made four changes – Jack Lake, Cam Dobinson, Caleb Ashworth and Charlie Spencer all returned to the squad.

Worthing Raiders on the attack in their big win over North Walsham | Picture: Stephen GoodgerWorthing Raiders on the attack in their big win over North Walsham | Picture: Stephen Goodger
Worthing Raiders on the attack in their big win over North Walsham | Picture: Stephen Goodger

Harrison Sims reached the milestone of 100 league appearances for Raiders and vice-captain Lake was playing his 175th game. A crowd of nearly 550 had turned up and the visitors kicked off, with the hosts attacking the southern end of the ground.

Raiders were quickly into their stride, handling with confidence and going through phases. A half break by Cam Dobinson and a neat offload to Ollie crow created the first try. The conversion was unsuccessful. Although the visitors had limited possession in the early stages, they demonstrated their ability to play expansively and looked dangerous.

After 12 minutes Raiders had spent almost all of the time in North Walsham’s territory and had given up a couple of good scoring chances. A powerful break by Frank Taggart enabled him to release Curtis Barnes on the left wing. The visitors’ cover defence was sound and they forced the ball carrier into touch ten metres short of the try line.

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With 13 minutes played North Walsham attempted to spread the ball wide deep in their own half. Jack Forrest read their play and timed his interception to perfection to sprint in unopposed. Louis Ellis converted and it was 12-0. The visitors went on the attack within ten metres of Raiders’ try line when Harrison Sims intercepted the ball and made a dash to the halfway line before being brought to ground.

Worthing Raiders on top v North Walsham | Picture: Stephen GoodgerWorthing Raiders on top v North Walsham | Picture: Stephen Goodger
Worthing Raiders on top v North Walsham | Picture: Stephen Goodger

The hosts moved the ball through a couple more phases before Barnes touched down, with Ellis again adding the extras – 19-0. Raiders followed this with a length-of-the-field attack involving Forrest and Barnes. This ended with a penalty to the hosts who were able to maintain the pressure.

The home team scored again after nineteen minutes when they stole the ball from North Walsham in a tackle. Ollie Crowe ran the ball in for his second try of the afternoon. Louis Ellis was again successful with the kick to extend the lead to 26-0. Lake received a yellow card for a tip tackle but the home side were dominant and although North Walsham attempted to counter-attack whenever they had the ball the hosts’ defence was sound.

The final score of the half came after Frank McMillan had made an aggressive burst up the right wing. When he was stopped the ball was recycled and moved across field. Ollie Crow made a break and fed the ball to Frank Taggart who made a surging run at the defenders before turning a pass back inside to Cam Dobinson who dived over to score the fifth try, which Ellis converted – 33-0.

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Raiders began rotating players from the bench. Caleb Ashworth and Balazs Magda replaced Fraser Bruce and Ben Featherstone in the front row. At half time it began to rain quite heavily but this did not detract from a flowing second half.

Raiders kicked off attacking the northern end and within four minutes had another try. Sims scythed his way through the defence at pace to touch down after more expansive build-up play. The conversion was missed but it was 38-0. McMillan got on the scoresheet, rounding off another good handling move. Ellis converted – 45-0.

Crow and Joe Knight took a rest; Tom Sunray and Featherstone replaced them. North Walsham continued to play good rugby and were rewarded with an unconverted try – 45-5. McMillan and Tom Bowen were replaced by Harry Forrest and Charlie Spencer and further evidence of the potential of the young North Walsham team was seen within minutes through a converted try to make it 45-12.

Bruce and Crow returned and Ashworth and Balazs Magda went to the bench. Raiders went back to basics when they were awarded a penalty in mid-field. Ellis kicked it to touch and from the lineout they set up a driving maul and Featherstone got the touchdown. Ellis drop kicked the conversion as the tee was not brought on in time – 52-12. The visitors’ third try was converted for 52-19.

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Arguably the best try of the match was scored by Barnes, when he picked up a ball on his own try line and used his pace and deception to make his way through attempted tackles before touching down. Ellis converted for 59-19. Sunray made a powerful run before Jack Forrest put a perfect grubber kick that allowed his brother Harry, to go over – 64-19. To round off the scoring, Bruce burst through the line and sprinted 40m for a score converted by Ellis.

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