AN EIGHTH win of a tough season for Jordan Reynolds’ Raiders and the perfect fillip for his side ahead of the Santander International Siam Cup match against Jersey in a fortnight.
‘It has been a tough year for us, but it was good to get that last win of the year, especially for the home crowd,’ said Reynolds afterwards.
It was another big crowd, too, perhaps as much as 600, a remarkable figure given their form for much of the season.
Guernsey go into the Siam as cup holders and the goods news is they are finally getting some players back, key figures like flying full-back/winger Anthony Armstrong who was among the try scorers here.
Their pre publicised plan on the last day of the league season was to field a pretty much full strength side for 40 minutes and then use the bench and try some new moves.
To that end the plan worked well and they led Old Albanian 21-7 at half time, George Shannon and scrum half Tom Teasdale scoring early on and after the visitors had found a gap in the defensive line and ran through to peg the deficit by seven, Raiders got a third try via Armstrong.
Fly half Owen Thomas converted all three first half scores.
In the second half Old Albanians came back just as about every Raiders fan expected them to and in another thriller they got back to within seven at 19-26 when the final whistle finally blew, Nick Merrien having got the home side’s bonus point fourth try.
The strong wind today and showers did not help either side and after the break Reynolds took the opportunity to rest Horrocks, Armstrong and his entire starting front row. Old Albanians came back just as about every Raiders fan expected them to and in another thriller they got back to within seven at 19-26 with tries from Old Albanian No. 8 Harry Betts and scrum-half Ross Lewis, with a Nick Merrien catch and drive try giving the Raiders crowd something to cheer about before the Raiders had to defend for their lives in the closing minutes to hold on.
Relegation hurts, of course, but Reynolds is not getting despondent.
‘It’s been good, we’ve learnt a lot from being up here. We’ve learnt that grind has to be there week in and week out, we’ve learnt how we’ve got to play as well.’
Raiders: Steventon, Ceillam, L. Batiste, Hillier, Merrien, Shannon, Rice, Horrocks, Teasdale, Thomas, Ahne, J. Batiste, Morisio, Armstrong, Sayer.
Replacements: Anderson, Craine, Baron, Le Prevost, Creber.
Old Albanian: Ramzan, Bond, Chamnaoui, Illston, Hamilton, Townsend, Munday, Betts, Lewis, Thompson, Ricci, Deane, Anderson, Barber, Jones.
Replacements: Atkinson, Napier, Stevens, Chalcraft.