Tough Day At The Office
Old Albanian 59
After a promising start, the scoreline certainly was not one that Raiders fans would have been hoping for in the side's debut game in National 2 South against Old Albanian RFC. Old Albanian were deserving winners, there is no doubt, but for half an hour they were outplayed by a very much new-look Raiders side who, ultimately, shot themselves in both feet, not taking their chances when on top and spending a crucial 20 minutes a player short.
The established Raiders pack was the stronger in the first half and this, as usual, provided the backs with plenty of ball to press forward.
Sadly, for us, time and time again the home side’s well drilled defence and line speed kept the green-and-whites from being able to turn good attacks into points.
On top of that, the Raiders line out failed to produce dividends on numerous occasions and at this level these opportunities need to be taken otherwise they come back and hurt you.
This duly happened, very much against the flow of play around 30 minutes in.
A knock on by Raiders set the Old Albanians back line on the attack. Raiders regained the ball on their try line but a charge down by the home team resulted in a converted try.
This proved to be the turning point and on 35 minutes Old Albanian again scored under the posts for a converted try:14-0.
Raiders needed to consolidate, but instead they went down to 14 courtesy of an off-the-ball incident in which new centre Elia Morisio pick up a yellow card.
The home side went for the corner catch and drive and a fine pass between their scrum half and flanker provided a third converted try of the half.
It was time to show some mettle and despite still being a man short the Raiders’ other new centre, Alex Gow, broke through the home defence and won a penalty. Raiders went for the touch line, won the line out and mauled their way over the line with Dom Rice emerging from the pile having scored.
Gow’s conversion hit the upright, then the cross bar and fell out. It was just that sort of afternoon for Jordan Reynolds’men.
Straight from the resulting kick off a mix up from the Raiders receivers, followed by a scrum allowed the Old Albanian big forwards to rumble over for a fourth try. Then, soon after returning to a full XV, Rice rather harshly received a yellow card providing the home side with another penalty.
The resulting line out allowed the home stand-off to slip past the Raiders defence for a fifth try. With the home side now in full control and the flood gates opened, Old Albanian ran in four more tries, three of which were converted.
Raiders must put the defeat aside and just move on. There were good displays from all involved and their effort was good. But with so much youth and new team members they need time to evolve and gel.
Let’s hope that starts this week at home to Worthing Raiders, in what will be the battle of Raiders.