OFF TO 'DONS WE GO
HI HO Ye Mighty Dons.
That's a headline currently ringing out on the Wimbledon Rugby Club home page and with 11 straight wins it is little wonder they are so 'chipper' ahead of what is possibly tomorrow's match of the day in the London and South East Premier league.
But, Raiders Director of Rugby, Jordan Reynolds insists, his men have to perform if they wish to win, which they didn’t when they slipped up narrowly at Rochford, the other side in this relatively intriguing chase for promotion back into the National League.
‘In all honesty we have got to perform better than when we went there,’ said our coach.
‘Our mindset needs to be correct which it wasn’t at Rochford and I hold my hand up for that. But this time we are a lot more excited than when we went to Rochford.’
It's a fortnight since Raiders put Sidcup to the sword with a 12-try dominant performance at Footes Lane where the hosts overpowered the visitors with plenty to spare.
One minor worry then was the fitness of Owen Thomas, who felt some discomfort in his hamstring during the warm-up which forced Guernsey into a reshuffle quarter-of-an-hour before kick-off, but it was with the Wimbledon game in mind that coach Jordan Reynolds decided not to risk his fly-half.
That meant a late call-up for new English winger Mike Agyei-King and he repaid the faith with a try.
Thomas is still out this weekend, not that it is anything to worry about unduly.
With more big games coming up either side of the festive period, it is being considered best not to rush the Welshman back into action and then perhaps lose him for weeks on end.
Sidcup were fairly swept aside but Wimbledon – ‘a pretty well-balanced side’ – and similar in style to Raiders said Reynolds, will be a big step.
Layton Batiste wins the 3 shirt this time around ahead of Aussie Jacob Pinkney who has recovered from a wrist injury .
Wimbledon are not only good they have a rich heritage, being of the country's oldest clubs and one of the RFU's formation clubs in 1865.
The Dons were playing at National Two level as recent as two seasons ago, but after their relegation in 2017-18 placed third in last season's London & SE Premier.
Raiders have not come across them for two and a half years, their last clash a real humdinger at Footes Lane at the end of March 2017 when Wimbledon won against a depleted Raiders 38-29.
On another day, Guernsey might just have edged out their promotion-chasing visitors, but it said an awful lot for the fare on show that even perfectionist Jordan Reynolds refused to get too analytical in the aftermath of a full-on contest on that now distant occasion.
‘I was very proud of what our guys delivered today,’ said the Raiders coach in-between congratulating the Wimbledon management on their performance.
‘They are a good side and I thought we were unlucky with a couple of things that did not go our way, but it is those little margins in tight games like this that prove the difference.
Three months earlier, Raiders, in the midst of a horrible run and injuries, were not nearly so impressive, being well beaten [39-14] at Wimbledon.
Kick off for tomorrow's game is at 2pm. Follow us our Twitter and Facebook for updates.
Sam Steventon, Tom Ceillam, Layton Batiste, Nick Merrien, Brad Webb, Lewis Hillier, Dom Rice, Douglas Horrocks; Jake O’Connor, Joe Andresen, Mike Agyei-King, Tom Teasdale, Matt Armstrong, Anthony Armstrong, Luke Sayer.
Replacements: Cameron Craine, Jacob Pinkney and Courtney Raymond.
In other rugby action this weekend, the Guernsey Raiders Ladies side play Heathfield and Waldron at Footes Lane on Sunday lunchtime, 1pm start. Free entry.