13 Good Men and True
Gloucestershire Warriors travelled with the bare 13 men and put up stiff resistance before going down to a club record defeat against the Raiders RL.
The Raiders ran in 15 tries against a side that never gave up but were reduced to 12 men for most of the second half and 11 for a five-minute period towards the end due to injury.
Sometimes you have to look behind the stark headlines to find the real truth of the story which was that the thirteen who made the trip to Llanelli put their bodies on the line in time worn cliché and several were struggling at the end of a fully committed 80 minutes’ play.
The players kept their discipline, conceding just a single penalty and errors only crept in to their play towards the end of each half as the warm sun and weight of Raiders’ possession took its toll.
On an absolutely immaculate pitch at Parc Stebonheath, loose forward Alan Pope crossed for four touchdowns for the Raiders while there were hat-tricks for Dan Fox and Andrew Rees. Hooker Alex King added a try to his 12 goals for a 28-point haul.
A half-time score of 24-12 reflected the close nature of the game at that point. The Raiders had raced to an early 14-0 lead with tries from Pope, Morgan Hughes and Fox and a goal from King before the Warriors pulled a score back through Alex Hoyle who touched down from an excellent offload by Connor Jones. Hoyle added a fine conversion.
Two further home tries from Rees and Pope, King converting one, extended the Raiders’ lead before Dale Cooper somehow escaped a tackler close to the line to score, Hoyle adding the extras again.
An early score in the second period from Rees settled the home side down but Hoyle was injured in attempting to halt the flying winger and took no further part in the match. King added the extras but Josh Williams’ brilliant individual kick and chase score two minutes later kept the Warriors just about in touch.
After a try from King, three scores in five minutes from Fox, Dan Maiden, and Pope brought up the half century and though Jamie James scored from Williams’ kick through five more home tries in the last ten minutes settled the game.
While the Warriors were down to 11 men with James on the sidelines with a painful foot injury, Kyle Bryan, Rees, Pope, Ben Phillips and Fox all crossed with King adding another five goals to his tally to conclude a fine team performance from the Raiders and, it should also be said, a fine team performance from the Warriors as well.
RAIDERS: Nath Beck; Taf Phillips, Luke Williams, Dan Fox, Andrew Rees; Dan Maiden, Shane Lee; Ben Phillips, Alex King, Rhys Davies; Morgan Hughes, Kyle Bryan; Alan Pope; INTERCHANGE: Josh Taylor, Jo Festa, Zak bevan, Owain Phillips.
Tries; Alan Pope (4, 33, 61, 74), Morgan Hughes (7), Dan Fox (10, 56, 79), Andrew Rees (27, 44, 73), Alex King (50), Dan Maiden (59), Kyle Bryan (71), Ben Phillips (78)
Goals; Alex King 12 from 15.
WARRIORS: Alex Hoyle; Matt Riddett, Robin Ford, Sam Handcock, Darren Collier; Luke Stephens, Josh Williams; Mike Hickey, Dale Cooper, Conrad Jones; Jamie James, Connor Jones (Capt.);Matt Price.
Tries; Alex Hoyle (24), Dale Cooper (38), Josh Williams (46), Jamie James (67)
Goals; Alex Hoyle 2 from 2, Josh Williams 0 from 2.
Referee: Richard Nuth (Wales RLRS)
Ultimate Warrior: It’s difficult to pick any one individual from such a big team effort but Jamie James worked as hard as anyone in the engine room of the middle of the field
IMAGE (courtesy Glenn Watts/gwpix): Jamie James was huge in a big team effort against the Raiders
Conference League South Results – Round 11
Leicester Storm 4-62 Sheffield Hallam Eagles
Nottingham Outlaws 28-22 Valley Cougars
Oxford Cavaliers 6-50 Coventry Bears A
The Raiders 84-20 Gloucestershire Warriors
Torfaen Tigers – Bye
Results, fixtures, tables and stats are available on the Conference League South website: http://www.conferenceleaguesouth.co.uk/