Raiders Academy at Worthing College 35 East Durham College 5
The last Raid of the year was always going to tough for any number of reasons, primarily the physicality brought by the East Durham opponents. Sizeable in the front five, with a strong running powerful 8 and 12 with a ten that had an educated boot.
The first half was an attritional affair that the Raiders did not get the best of. EDC were robust in their play moving the ball no wider than the mid field and using the forward pack to create the attacking platform. Worthing were playing straight into the hands and game plan of the Durham side, engaging in a simple battle of physics gaining no advantage. At this stage the Raiders could arguably have been three scores up with the chances they created from scraps of possession however found themselves under the posts as the EDC 12 made metres and the defence had no answer. Kicking into the wind the extras were not made, Raiders 0 EDC 5.
This didn’t kick start the Raiders as desired but seemed to draw them further back into the shell and on to the back foot. It is said matches can be won on decisions, possibly true, however this game was won on monuments. Moments that define the game are huge even if they don’t seem so at the time. The first of these, an excellent break by the EDC 12 was thwarted by fullback Tessier, the second was that Swart moved to 10 and provided a little more control on the game. Although EDC were still in the ascendancy and looking for more scores Worthing held firm. The final act of the first half was possibly the third of those game defining moments, having four scrums on the Raider 5m line and being repelled by the staunch defence. The official called half time and the Raiders were happy to take the 0-5 scoreline into the second period.
The half time team talk would on the face of it be the stuff of Raider legend as the second period would stand and attest to. Useless was the huff and puff of trying blow the Durham house down, cunning and guile would be needed to break the game open. Solid game management, accurate execution and heightened decision making under pressure was called for. So nothing more than suggested in the preparation for the match and so it was the half that will live in the minds of the Raiders Academy at Worthing College for years to come.
Thirty five unanswered points, tries from Fowler, Hassan, Tessier, Forster and Gibson with the latter bringing his nudging slippers and adding 5conversions. Fowler the beneficiary of an excellent driving maul following moment four. Having the option of dotting the ball down for a 22m restart, kicking from hand or trying to run our under pressure the EDC fullback tried to run out. He was met by three Raiders and bundled into touch 10m out. From here the forwards took care of business good throw, catch and drive, Worthing had troubled the scorers. Gibson slotted from wide out and it was 7-5 Raiders. Hassan took the gamble on the EDC 10’s pass and hit the jackpot (moment 5), an interception and 50m later he was able to touch down for the score by the horns. Raiders 14-5.
The the get a touch moment of the match and final light on the EDC challenge came when great pressure was placed on the fly half as he was kicking deep in the 22m following excellent chase work by Van Rooij. The 10’s kick wasn’t struck sweetly owing to the charge of Swift and Lake and found itself in midfield 45m out in the hands of Tessier. He proceeded to round the first defender, cut inside the next two and stumble over for the 5pointer. Extras added and Raiders were up 21-5.
It was clear to see that the puff had been well and truly taken from the EDC side having given so much it seemed they may have missed the chance to grasp the game. A score here with 10mins to go could have changed things, fortunately for Worthing ‘Big Mo’ was wearing Raider Gold and he continued to roll with the Raiders. Good kicking from Swart and chasing form Adu et al provided Gibson the opportunity to benefit from more good catch and drive work.
The line out provided the last scoring action where Lake, again impressive took advantage of the defensive strategy breaking through and dishing to Forster whom scored with his first touch. Gibson now metronomic with the boot ended the scoring at Raiders 35 EDC 5. Durham were every bit worthy finalist and they will be making the way back up the A1 thinking what might have been. For me ‘what might have been’ and ‘what was’ parted ways during the last play of the first half. If Worthing turned round into the wind 12 or even 19-0 down, it may have proved too much to turn round.
On reflection the forwards all stood to gradually overcome their opposite numbers while the backs used the greater spaces offered by tiring defenders to make an ever increasing impact on the game.
Congratulations to the Worthing players on a tough and ultimately successful season.
Forwards: Jordan Gibson- Strong scrummaging, 100% from the boot adding 10pts and scoring a try. 15point personal total in finals rugby is important and impressive.
Backs: Daan Swart- Directed play well. Distributed the ball accurately and kicked into position on a number of occasions astutely.
Fowler, Hassan, Tessier, Gibson, Forster