THE Raiders coaching team stood frustrated as they edged onto the old Footes Lane pitch at full time on Saturday.
Their team had done more than enough to secure a second straight bonus-point victory which leaves them third in the early London & South East league table, but it was not a day they will wants to retain for long in the memory.
Head coach Jordan Reynolds admitted he had hoped for more.
‘Losing Asher in the first 30 seconds didn’t help. That was a bit annoying and as you only get three reserves we couldn’t do too much with it.
‘We started quick, which was good, but I felt Brighton were able to slow our ball down consistently in that first half, so fair play to them, but that kind of allowed them to get some control in that first half which was disappointing.
‘But we came out in the second half and did what we needed to and managed to get the two tries which allowed us to get the bonus point which is probably the best thing possible.’
The coach said his players were equally disappointed, which was shown at half-time.
‘There was frustration from our players, but we managed to calm them down at half time, but listen when you are trying to play at 100mph sometimes it is better to drop a gear and make sure you have control of what you are trying to do.
‘I think it was a gritty performance but the boys said straight after they were disappointed with the performance while happy with the result.
‘We know we have got a lot to work on.
Raiders came into the game with Owen Thomas unexpectedly missing.
The first choice stand-off was unwell overnight, which meant a second start at 10 for Joe Andresen and Luke Sayer coming in at full-back.
And if you blinked you missed the first score.
Andresen kicked off and the Brighton No. 8 dropped the ball.
From the resulting 20m scrum the Raiders worked the ball beautifully to the right with Andresen touching down but unable to nail the conversion.
It was an electric opening by the Raiders even though they were quick to haul off Asher Veamatahau with a hamstring issue, allowing Tom Teasdale to get on the pitch at centre.
We were soon 12-0 ahead.
There was just nine minutes in the clock when another slick move saw Teasdale put Sayer in for a second try.
Andresen had a simpler kick which he put away.
But bit by bit Brighton got back into it and more so after Tom Ceillam picked up a yellow on the 26min mark.
Raiders were forced, on occasion, into desperate defence and Layton Batiste was called into hook with Ceillam off the park.
Just before half-time Raiders should have scored again, but Anthony Armstrong spilled Teasdale’s ball with the try line wide open.
Into the second half Raiders were still struggling for any fluency, but strength and persistence ultimately paid off and Brad Webb was shoved over: 17-0.
Then, on the hour mark, Cam Craine forced himself over for the bonus point score and despite Andresen again missing the game was won.
Brighton, to their credit, came back and were held up over the line twice.
Lewis Hillier was shown a yellow card and with seven minutes left Blues’ captain Alistair Brady wriggled over and Max Morris converted.
Brighton pushed hard for another try, finally showing some real adventure lacking for most of the game, but Raiders held on.
Reynolds said that the match official had not helped,
‘They were constantly able to slow down the ball and that had an effect on the speed we could play at, which was a great tactic.
‘Once they did that their physical game came into it and they had a good set of forwards to be fair. They probably beat us around the set-piece a bit, especially around the lineout which is a bit disappointing.’