McSorleys Match Report - Raiders 20/Oct/2018
By Kenneth Carnduff
Raiders come away with the spoils in a hard-fought battle with Kowloon
By Chris “Pegleg” Harris
Overcast skies and a gentle breeze up on the hill at King’s Park set the scene for a momentous day for the Raiders and Sandy Bay as a whole. Despite the absence of several key stalwart players, the Raiders were able to field a strong team, with Marauders and Vikings players alike putting up their hands to back up and help out.
The game began in ideal fashion for the Raiders with some strong concerted possession and defensive line speed telling in generating a scrum on the opposition 5. The Raiders pack made their extra size, power and technique tell immediately with a huge shove to get the Kowloon scrum stepping backwards at a rate of knots. Mark Phipps showed some silky 8 skills at the back of the scrum to keep the bobbling ball under control before picking up and dotting down for a simple finish as the scrum inexorably surged over the try line. Richard Lindsay slotted the extras from a wide angle to give the Raiders a 7-0 lead within the first 5 minutes.
However, if the Raiders thought they were in for an easy afternoon, they were sorely mistaken with Kowloon coming back strongly and the Raiders falling on the wrong side of the ruck (and therefore the referee) on several occasions. Eventually, Kowloon were able to shift the ball out wide to make some yards into the Bay 22. While Tony Scott showed that age is just a number with a great piece of cover defending the Raiders were unable to exit, and Kowloon showed good forward play of their own to hit the ball up tight and eventually bundle over the line from a meter or so out. They added the extras to level things up at 7-7 after the 12-minute mark.
The Raiders continued to play well with the ball, with the forward runners, in particular, Jeff “Big Jeff” Chin and James “Pony” Stevenson making good yards through contact to generate quick ball for the backs. Following some scrappy play and a hack through it seemed like a solid try was on for winger Pete Budd, but he was unable to gather the ball as it bounced just past his chest. Whether the bounce of the Rugby ball was to blame or the fact that Pete didn’t have his hands up ready to catch will no doubt be the subject of debate for years to come.
In defence, the Raiders continued to get on the wrong side of the ruck and the referee with the official eventually having enough of the repeated infringements, Marks Phipps the try scorer was the unlucky man with the straw that broke the back of the referee's patience sending him to the bin for 10 minutes. At this stage, the game was a scrappy affair with multiple turnovers, knock-ons and penalties disrupting the flow of play. As the arm wrestle continued, it was the Raiders who finished the half strongly with a quick tap penalty resulting in a series of forward pick and goes which lead James Stevenson to take 2 players over the line with him and wrestle the ball down to the floor under the posts. Jack Hodgson added the extras with a simple kick not long before the halftime break allowing the Raiders to take a 14-7 lead into the second half.
In the second half, the game continued to be an arm wrestle with plenty of scrums to keep the front row purists entertained. A change in strategy was needed, and in a bold move coach, Ken Carnduff moved Lewis EBERT from 10 into openside flanker to give the back row some more speed and allow Luke Hayes to step up from Marauders to run the game at 10. However, it was probably the introduction of John “Staten” Goepel into the second row earlier on that spurred the forward pack on to greater heights. The much-needed energy in the pack allowed the Raiders to mount an assault on the Kowloon try line with again a series of forward pick and goes grinding the defence down until John Goepel was able to squirm over from a meter out. Lewis EBERT was controversially awarded the conversion by the referee despite everyone else claiming it had missed by a mile. Nevertheless, the official score with 15 mins of the second half played read as a 21-7 lead.
The Raiders defence continued to be both dogged and aggressive enough to continue getting on the referee's bad side, but it was effective in keeping the Kowloon attack from mounting anything like a concerted attacking effort. Their backline had apparently decided that running down Matt Jones’s channel in the centres and being introduced to Rugby League style one up tackling was not in their best interests so decided to keep it in tighter or as wide as possible. Eventually, this tactic paid off, and some good footwork and speed from a Kowloon player allowed them to go through the middle and score under the posts for a converted try.
However, it proved to be too little too late (despite John Goepel being sin-binned by the ref for a dying fish impersonation over the top of the ball in a Kowloon ruck). The Raiders finished well to see out the game for a 21-14 win which marked the first ever W for a Sandy Bay Rugby team in a league match.
I’m sure the Raiders will claim that it was them getting the ball rolling which inspired the Premiership side to record their first ever W directly afterwards on the same pitch. Truly they earned the spoils and plunder (of a Chungking Mansion Curry and some well deserved Brown Fizzy Drinks).
Chris “Pegleg” Harris