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The going was good to soft in racing parlance and the pitch was bathed in autumn sunshine with virtually no breeze. The Raiders received the kick off and, although Hartpury applied immediate pressure, cleared their lines. The home side returned the ball and after a series of exchanges the visitors conceded a penalty, which Burns converted with four minutes gone. (3 0)
On eight minutes, following a scrum on half way, Chris Fortey, was forced to leave the field with a back injury and was replaced by Callum OConnell. As the game settled down, the balance between the sides was very even, the packs competing strongly at the breakdown and both sets of backs looking for the opportunity to make use of their pace. Each side was guilty of missed opportunities but mid-way through the half Hartpury moved the ball left and a lateral pass from Clark, who had used his pace to break the line, set OConnell up for a try in the corner which went unconverted. (8 0)
The Raiders began to apply sustained pressure on their opponents. Whilst two clear cut chances on the left went begging, three promising attacks were thwarted illegally and in the 23rd, 29th and 35th minutes Joe Govett took the penalty opportunities offered to move the visitors ahead. After awarding the third penalty, the referee spoke to the home captain and warned him that further transgressions in the red zone would lead to a yellow card, however no further incidents before half time left Worthing with a slender lead. (8 9)
Jamie Redmayne, who had taken a knock just before half time, was replaced at the interval by James Arthur and the second period started as the first had ended, with The Raiders confidence slowly growing and their play improving accordingly. With six minutes gone, the home defence again transgressed under pressure in the red zone and their outside centre, Jackson, was sent to the bin. Govett converted the resulting penalty to open a four point gap. (8 12)
If the visitors thought a man advantage would give them the opportunity to increase their lead, they were to be disappointed. Hartpury played the sin bin period very shrewdly, slowing play where necessary and playing to their forwards. The net result was two penalty concessions by the visitors, both of which were converted by Burns and, with Jackson back on the field, the home side had the lead once again. (14 12)
With fifteen minutes to play, The Raiders dug deep and upped their tempo, with Pointing and McIntyre replacing Cleveland and Burns to add fresh legs to the battle. Twice in as many minutes, Govett box kicked over the ruck to set Nielsen on the chase but on both occasions the bounce was unkind. The forwards too set up chances but these again came to naught and as the game entered the vital final stages, Burns and Sloan replaced the hard working Maslen and Clayton. Both sides sensed that the next score was vital and, having gained position in the Worthing twenty two, Hartpury applied intense pressure which required a massive defensive effort to repulse. With five minutes remaining, The Raiders worked their way into their opponents half and won a penalty forty-five meters out. Govett took the long shot but, whilst it had the legs, it drifted wide left. The resulting drop-out allowed the visitors to regain possession and pressurise the defence once more. Hartpury held firm but The Raiders were patient and were eventually rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts less than twenty meters out. A sitter obviously, all Govett has to do is kick it and we win, of course miss it and we lose. No pressure there then Joe! Worthing players and spectators collectively held their breath and turned supplicating eyes to the heavens or buried their heads in their hands. Govett however simply held his nerve, teed up the ball, checked the clock to ensure there was no chance of a re-start and then stroked the ball through the posts. Mr Watters blew to signal the score, checked his watch and blew again for no side. (14 15)
By any standards a good win, few sides have left Hartpury with any reward in this league or any other through which they have progressed. It was a quiet but contented Raiders bus which began the drive home. This result drops Hartpury from second to fifth in the league table and moves The Raiders one place above them into fourth. Elsewhere, all the home sides were victorious. Shelford took five points to nil against Barking, as did Clifton against Launceston. Redruth also got the maximum from Chinnor, Taunton took four points in a close encounter with Lydney and league leaders Henley scored heavily against visitors Bournemouth. Next weeks opponents Dings Crusaders had a solid five point win over Canterbury and will look to build on that at The Rugby Park next week, there are no easy games in this league. There are a few places at lunch still available (Contact the office 01903 784706) come and support The Raiders, you know it makes sense!
Team: Cleveland, Miles, Burns, Stutchbury, Barlow, Redmayne, Hewick, Smith, Govett, Dudley, Nielsen, Clayton, Richards, Maslen, Farnes. Subs: Pointing, Arthur, McIntyre, Burns, Sloan.