A lengthy trip to the midlands awaited the Raiders Academy on Wednesday morning and the story follows that it was a tale of two halves in sunny Coventry. The first in which the Raiders barely got off the bus and allowed a powerful team to boss everything, coming second in nearly every area although the forwards managed to assert scrum dominance. Unfortunately the set piece strength of the Raiders side was not a complete enough platform to shape the game in their favour. Coventry were good value for the 24-7 lead at the half. However importantly just before half time Burger crossed for a good individual effort and Gibson’s conversion gave the score board a modicum of respectability. This proved to be the catalyst for a more pleasing second half performance.
A few words of truth and honesty at the break and the Raiders went out with renewed vigour pressuring from the start. No backwards step was taken and as a result parity was gained at the breakdown, scrum dominance was maintained and the line out continued to be a real contest. Owing to this Worthing were able to really challenge for the spoils on the score board.
If we look past the mistakes and developing decision making during he first period the Raiders may well have been in the mix, but you have to earn the right to contest the win and this was not achieved during the first half. A greater intensity during the second period allowed attacking opportunities during phase play and the tight five had taken enough out of the opposition to permit gaps to open up. An increasing productivity at the break down lead to a quickening of Raider ball and slowing of Henley ball all aiding in the turning of the tide.
Ultimately there was too much to left do in too little time. The game concluded with the Raiders gaining the upper hand in most of the latter exchanges.
Tries in the second half went to Fogerty showing excellent footwork and power to go from 50m while Hassan was the beneficiary of great interplay between half the team. Gibson converting both to make the final score Raiders 21 Henley 36.
Performances of note- Clegg and Carruthers stepping up and making solid contributions. Fowler showed why he has been missed while unavailable and Calleja made a real impact when he came on. But against all of these good performances one forward and one back stood out.
Forwards: Jack Lake made countless tackles and raised the level of physicality to new heights.
Backs: Brent Van Rooij collected every single ball at 15 and beat numerous defenders, also making try saving tackles on more than one occasion.
Tries: Hassan, Burger, Fogerty
Conversions: Gibson 3