21st March 2015, 16:51
Raiders top Conference South after win over champs
In a tough encounter at Stebonheath Park in Llanelli, The Raiders, at their first game in the RFL Conference South, had an excellent start to their campaign, beating reigning champions and fellow Welsh side Valley Cougars 34-6.
RFL CONFERENCE SOUTH ROUND 1
The Raiders (West Wales) 34 Valley Cougars 6
Leicester Storm 28 Torfaen Tigers 16
Sheffield Hallam Eagles 24 Coventry Bears Reserves 12
Gloucestershire Warriors 46 Oxford Cavaliers 22
Bristol Sonics v Nottingham Outlaws - Postponed
THE RAIDERS 34 VALLEY COUGARS 6
By Ian Golden at Stebonheath Park, Llanelli
In a tough encounter at Stebonheath Park in Llanelli, West Wales new flagship side The Raiders, at their first game in the RFL Conference South, had an excellent start to their campaign, beating reigning champions and fellow Welsh side Valley Cougars 34-6.
This competition, a division below League 1 where South Wales Scorpions play, was won handsomely by the Cougars last year but the Treharris based side struggled out west, as Raiders, who fielded six players from last year’s South Wales under 19 side and are coached by Wales Rugby League’s Jon Ellis, showed why they could be a force to be reckoned with in 2015.
Two successive Cougars penalties put the Raiders on the back foot but despite being given that territorial advantage, they couldn’t capitalise, Karl Jones’ grubber going too far for anyone to latch onto.
The youngster shone throughout the game but it was old hand, Alan Pope, the Raiders’ skipper, who chased his own chip kick to give Raiders the lead in their first real attack. Alex King converted but couldn’t put his team further ahead after missing a penalty kick on goal.
But King made up for it when he dived over from dummy half for Raiders’ second try on 16 minutes. Andy Rhys Stobart goaled to make the score 12-0.
Cougars hit back just after the 20 minute mark when Chris Speck powered through the Raiders back-line. Marcus Webb converted.
The reigning champions looked for a levelling try but despite winning a couple of penalties, they couldn’t get over the line, twice knocking on as they dived for a try.
From the scrum following that second error, Luke Williams ran almost the full length of the pitch to score Raiders third try. King goaled to make it 18-6 at the interval.
It took 20 minutes for the second half deadlock to be broken, but after that, the Raiders took control.
Morgan Jeffries twisted his way through the Cougars defence for an unconverted try to make it 22-6.
Dan Maiden went over from a penalty to increase the lead further with Luke Williams converting.
A Rhys Cherry try from close range, goaled by Williams, completed the scoring in front of a crowd of over 100 in a great day for West Wales Rugby League.
LEICESTER STORM 28 TORFAEN TIGERS 16
Torfaen Tigers, the third Welsh side in this 10-team league, started their Conference South campaign with a 28-16 defeat at Leicester Storm despite the midlands side being down to 12 men for much of the second half.
The Tigers, who were helped out by South Wales Scorpions and Cardiff City RL players after falling to a few injuries and unavailabilities, started well and scored with their first attack – Shaun Watkins going in under the posts and Matt Cummins converting.
Leicester levelled through a Roddy Jonas try converted by Mark Etherington, but Watkins went over again for Tigers to give them the lead back with Cummins adding the extras to make it 12-6 at the break.
Leicester’s Josh West scored first in the second half before his team suffered a red card and Tigers capitalised straight away after Sam Hancox scored in the corner to make it 16-12.
But the barrage went the way of the home side, who were depleted in numbers but not in quality as they ran in three unanswered tries in the last 20 minutes. Jonas went over for his second, Rhys Williams added one before Etherington scored to add to his four goals.