The Raiders made the four and a half hour trip to West Anglia on Wednesday for the AoC Plate semi final clash to face the unknown quantity of the Norfolk outfit.
The going was officially good to firm and great for running rugby. Perfect for the mobile and skilful Raiders, while the home side with their greater bulk may have desired a slightly more heaving going to suit their style of play.
With not great prematch preparation being put to one side Worthing started on the short and narrow pitch playing into a 25point head wind. The opening minutes were frantic and bodies were being thrown at the ball by both sides with the physicality and simplicity of game giving the home side a real foothold in the contest. Worthing tried to counter attack on kick return but found that mistakes would cost as pressure was applied by home team. The Raiders finding themselves down 3-0 after a well struck penalty went over from the Anglia 15, a standout for the home team all day. This was the catalyst for some good Raider rugby. The forwards got some go forward and gained dominance in the scrum while the line out struggled to find a rhythm in the blustery conditions. However after 20mins Worthing put some nice rugby together and Clegg finished well in the corner Beecham on this occasion unable to make the extras. Raiders 5-3 up.
More good rugby followed with numerous forays into the Anglia 22m but no end product to show for it. Frustration between the Worthing players was starting to show and this manifested in not managing the penalty count as required, pressure building and the ball in the wrong hands at the wrong end of the field. During this period the Raiders recent defensive work was put under the microscope, holding up to the scrutiny the Raiders changed the match with a moment of brilliance. The ball was turned over in the defensive 22, moved through the hands to the left wing, where Swart collected and ran 80m out stripping the covering defenders and going under the horns for the 7pointer. Raiders 12-3.
The wind continued to be used well by the team in red and Worthing had to play in areas they would rather not. It was inevitable that under that pressure and in those conditions points would be conceded, they were but only 3 of them. Raiders 12-6 at the half. A few words of encouragement from the captain Fogerty and wisdom from Coach Coulson behind them the team went out to take up the challenge again.
The second half was a complete change from the first, Worthing exerted an almost total dominance in every part of the game on all parts of the pitch. The forwards extra conditioning and skill level paid great dividends, the backs superior speed and skill made use of the ball provided. Packham, Lee, Lake and Forster crossed on the back of great build up play from the forwards with Fogerty and Tessier finishing tries born of the team but made with individual determination. Harkin’s score was a combination of good grunt work in the forwards and nice delivery from Beecham.
The front row were brilliant throughout, Calleja, Forster and Lee gave Bathurst an armchair ride, this made all the more possible by the engine room of Hassan, Fowler and Hammond. The back row dominated the second half exchanges with Lake providing the line out presence, Packam and Dunk getting over the ball and Fow supporting off the bench. Both 9s Steggles and Swift controlled the tempo with both showing a skilled display of box kicking especially in the second half. Beecham had possibly his best game yet for college made all the more pleasing as there was plenty left in the performance to develop. The centres of Fogerty and Adu were a constant challenge to the defence. They ran hard, created space and delivered good go forward ball to the outside backs. The back three continued to develop their working relationship with Tessier beating defenders on the counter, Harkin, Swart and Clegg all looked dangerous with the ball, this backed up by all of them making the score sheet! Parkin got minutes on the wing and with the one chance he got the opposition deemed it necessary to have three defenders in attendance to get the job of stopping him done.
So video Thursday/Friday and on to training with a renewed vigour as we approach the Easter break. Congratulations, rest up and build again Friday.
Tries: Clegg, Swart, Packham, Lee, Harkin, Fogerty, Tessier, Lake, Forster
Cons: Beecham 5, Swart 2
Forwards: Liam Lee- carried well from the back of the maul on numerous occasions, scrummaged very well and worked well in the defensive system.
Backs: Martyn Swift- controlled the forwards and general tempo of the game. Made great distance from the boot and provided excellent attacking ball for the backs to use.