After a below standard performance at Henley much was expected from the home side and the crowd of over 400.
The squad selected for this match saw Louis Ellis make his debut and Henry Anscombe playing his first game since re-joining the club. Jon Whittall and Nathan Jibulu returned to the squad after unavailability the previous week.
Raiders kicked off attacking the northern end of the ground. The home side made a slow start and found themselves on the wrong side of a couple of penalty decisions. The visitors were able to capitalise on this by kicking one of these in the eleventh minute to take an early 0-3 lead.
Within a few minutes Louis Ellis caught a high kick well within his own half. He passed it to Jack Forrest on the left touchline and having beaten the first defender he gave it to Jack lee who in turn gave it to Jack Lake. From the ensuing ruck the ball was moved across the field towards the right wing, but when it got to Levi Davis at outside centre, he stepped back inside the covering defence and then from forty metres outstripped the chasers to score close to the posts. Matt McLean converted to put the home side in front, 7-3.
Just before the half hour mark Hinckley were turned over deep in Raiders’ territory, Joe Spurgeon was quickly round the ruck to scoop up the loose ball and charge off up the field. After making twenty metres he was tackled and from the resulting ruck the ball was moved to the backs, when it reached Levi Davis, he stepped past the first and second attempted tacklers and then sprinted forty metres to touch down under the posts. With Matt McLean’s conversion the lead was stretched to 14-3.
Hinckley kicked a penalty after 29 minutes to close the gap to 14-6. After 34 minutes Jon Whittall left the field injured and was replaced by Rob Cuffe. Only a minute later Raiders were awarded a penalty and kicked towards the corner. The ball went into touch some twenty metres from the Hinckley try line. Nathan Jibulu threw the ball in, Jack Lee caught it and a driving maul was set up. Seconds later Nathan Jibulu touched down as the maul crossed the Hinckley try line. Matt McLean’s conversion attempt hit the post and bounced out. The lead now 19-6.
The home side were looking quite comfortable at this stage but as so often seems to happen they conceded a try seconds from the end of the half leaving the score at 19-11.
Half time score: Worthing Raiders 19 Hinckley 11
Cam Dobinson replaced Rhys Morgan at the half time interval. Hinckley restarted the game and were now defending the southern end of the ground. With only four minutes on the clock Cam Dobinson received a yellow card for a technical infringement at a ruck.
Hinckley quickly took advantage of Cam Dobinson’s yellow card and scored a converted try to close the gap to 19-18.
Poor discipline at break downs meant Hinckley could regularly gain ground from the resulting penalties. The home side continued to use the ball in an entertaining fashion with backs and forwards linking expertly to stretch the visitors’ defence.
However, it was a great individual effort that brought the bonus point try for Raiders. Jack Forrest received the ball wide on the left he stepped infield, he used all his strength to bounce the tackler off and then left several trailing in his wake as he sped to the line. Matt McLean converted to give the home side a lead 26-18.
Henry Anscombe was replaced by Louis Ellis with ten minutes to play. It looked as though Raiders might have weathered the storm, but Hinckley quickly closed the gap with a penalty with nine minutes to play, 26-21.
With the game still in the balance Raiders seemed to have reasonable control of the situation until a cross kick from Hinckley bounced awkwardly for Raiders’ defence but perfectly for the on rushing Hinckley attacker who collected the ball at full tilt to score what was the winning try. With the successful conversion the visitors now had a two-point lead, 26-28.
This felt like defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, especially after some excellent rugby played by Raiders. The loyal home supporters might wonder how Raiders lost this game and the answer would come down to errors at key moments in attack and defence, the penalty count against them causing the concession of ground gained and the cruel luck of the bounce. Despite all it was two hard earned points in the league and third place.
Report by Colin Coulson.