ALL CHANGE AGAIN IN THE BACKS
BRAD WEBB’S match-winning try heroics in last week’s inter-insular game have led to him getting a wing berth for Raiders as they head off to fellow national two South strugglers London Irish Wild Geese.
Webb, who has appeared in the Raiders back row on occasion this term, is part of a very makeshift set of backs selected in a meagre 18-strong group for the trip.
Coach Jordan Reynolds is clearly disappointed he can’t take a full 20 and has no replacement back, but in his own phlegmatic way, says: ‘It is what it is and we can’t do anything about it.’
Since the win over Old Redcliffians a fortnight ago, he has lost the services of Blair Campbell, Luke Sayer and, most recently, Luke Jones.
This on top of the still recent hamstring twang that sidelined full-back Anthony Armstrong.
But, for all their troubles, it is a decent group heading off to London and the pack looks strong, as it has been all season.
Tom Teasdale and Owen Thomas continue their flourishing half-back partnership, but the rest of the backline is very makeshift with Vikings regular Cam Le Prevost coming in on the opposite wing to Webb’s and in the centre, Matt Lomas getting a start alongside Elia Morisio.
Daley Aremu switches to full back.
Jordan Reynolds bemoaned the continued lack of consistency in the backline and said it has been an issue for the last two years.
Thankfully, during all that time, the forwards have remained remarkably consistent in terms of depth and performance.
Reynolds is confident that his side can get another win, but they need to remain focused.
‘Irish are pretty good at getting under the skin of other teams and we need to maintain our discipline.
‘We went over to Canterbuty similarly light on the backline, so we can perform under those conditions.’
Reynolds, meanwhile, is enthusiastic about the proposals to trial new laws where rugby union could adopt a new kicking law, taking a lead from rugby league.
The 40-20 in the 13-man code sees the kicking side retain possession if a strike from behind their own 40-metre line that bounces into touch beyond the opposition’s 20-metre line.
Rugby union’s version would be a 50-22. So, if an attacking side manages to skip the ball into touch inside their rivals’ 22 from behind the halfway line, they would throw into the resulting lineout.
‘There has been a lot of negativity but I think they are interesting,’ said our coach.
‘I don’t think that it will become a game of aerial ping-pong as some fear and I think it will make for more attacking rugby.
‘I’d like to see it trialled properly as it could be a game-changer.
‘I’d definitely be keen to see it happening.’
Steventon, Ceillam, L. Batiste, Hillier (c), Merrien, Shannon, Rice, Horrocks; Teasdale, Thomas, Webb, Lomas, Morisio, Le Prevost, Aremu.
Replacements: Creber, Anderson, J. Smith.