This first appeared in the Guernsey Press.
Raiders are looking up after making it three wins from three outings in 2024.
Following the home successes against Tonbridge Juddians and Wimbledon, Guernsey overcame Old Albanians 39-26 on their belated first road trip of the year on Saturday and from being involved in a relegation scrap at Christmas, director of rugby Jordan Reynolds has re-evaluated his targets.
‘There have been huge improvements,’ he said.
‘At the end of December I said “stick with it” because I could see things were starting to change – in the Sevenoaks game just before Christmas, although the result didn’t go our way, we just looked better.
‘I would say we are now maybe just ahead, or at least on a par, with where we should be.
‘We are two points off eighth with a game in hand now we have pricked our ears up, so that’s maybe the target now.
‘Our highest-ever finish was ninth, so eighth would be a massive achievement and it is going to be tough, but what a great challenge.
‘We are probably going to have to win another five games on top of what we already have, which is a lot to ask, but we have the sort of confidence now that we probably haven’t had since September-October, and we want to ride this momentum,’ Reynolds said.
Raiders came flying out of the blocks at OAs with scrum-half Charlie Simmonds scoring the opening try in the first minute.
Lewis Jones replied for the home side, but Guernsey then took full control of the game with three tries in the space of 10 minutes with Ciaran McGann, Charlie Currie and Anthony Armstrong all crossing the whitewash.
Pierce Holland got one back for OAs just before the interval and after half-time the teams traded scores for much of the third quarter with Armstrong and Hugo Culverhouse adding tries for Raiders while McGann kicked nine points in total.
‘All the damage was done in the first half – at one stage we were 24-7 up,’ Reynolds said.
‘We did not have the slow start that we often get on a lot of away days, which was of benefit to us.
‘It was not perfect by any means, I felt we defended better against Wimbledon, but to get a win on the road at a place like OAs is pleasing.
‘We took the confidence of the last two games into this one.’
However, the Raiders coach also admitted that, largely due to injuries suffered by his team in the game, he ‘did not feel comfortable’.
‘There were people there afterwards saying that Guernsey did not need to get out of second gear – that was not the way we saw it from our bench. The fact that others said that was encouraging for us,’ said Reynolds.
‘We had some early issues because Tom Teasdale’s hamstring tightened up inside the first quarter of the game, but he managed to hobble through to 40 minutes and that was good for us because even at 40% he was one of the better players on the park.
‘We also lost Hugo to back spasms for a spell. We took him off and did some work on him, managed to get him back on later in the game.
‘Anthony did something to his pectoral muscle, too. He continued to play because we had no back-three cover on the bench, but OAs did realise he wasn’t quite right and started attacking his wing where he basically had to tackle just with his left arm.
‘It was good to see them just cracking on with it, despite the fact they were struggling.’
Raiders will be back on the road this coming weekend when they visit Worthing, who are directly below them in the table.