MATCH REPORT – Raiders 6 – 68 Thunder

Newcastle Thunder’s winning streak was extended to seven matches on Saturday afternoon, as a professional showing saw them take a 6-68 win over a determined West Wales Raiders at Stobenheath Park.

A 13 try showing provided Simon Finnigan’s side with a valuable return as the run in to the end of the Betfred League 1 season continued and allowed them to take their points difference to the best in the division as of Saturday tea-time.

With the Raiders having taken an impressive first-ever win against Coventry Bears in the last match, a side who had themselves inflicted a surprise defeat on Thunder earlier in the season, any pre-match nerves from the visitors were quickly settled by Joel Edwards.

Breaking through the midfield, the Aussie prop shimmied his way past the Raiders fullback to get his side off the mark with a try converted by Rhys Clarke.

A surge down the left wing by Alex Clegg extended the lead to 10-0 to give Thunder a solid platform on which to build and although the Raiders were posing questions of the Thunder defence, they were unable to break through the line.

After continuing to make good yards through potent runs from their forwards, in particular, Edwards and Liam McAvoy, new signing Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e got the scoreboard back ticking for the visitors and reinvigorated Thunder’s attacking impetus.

Scoring another three tries before the break, centre Kieran Gill got things underway as he spun around his marker to finish off a sweeping move that stretched the play from side to side, before Lewis Young became the club’s leading try-scorer for the season so far as he scooped up a loose ball and raced clear.

Gill’s second closed out the half with the centre winning the footrace to a well-placed grubber kick from QLT and gave Thunder a commanding lead, which the quickly extended at the start of the second forty.

Adding two tries in the opening five minutes, Thunder’s blitz of the Raiders began with Misi Taulapapa at the heart of the action as Newcastle pounced on their first attacking set.

The Samoan international showed great strength in the tackle to make valuable meters whilst wrestling with three defenders, before working back into position following the play the ball to collect a fine looping pass on the wing to stroll in.

Gill’s hat-trick allowed Thunder to punish an infringement from the hosts with ruthless efficiency before West Wales broke their duck as they burrowed over from short range after gaining territory when Newcastle were penalised whilst attempting another pacey attack.

It only served to spur Thunder on to greater levels of execution though, with another 28 points coming from some excellent play as Newcastle stretched their legs.

The first saw Nick Newman’s precise kicking game open up space for Clarke to dot down before man of the match Edward bagged his second after he combined well with Evan Simons in midfield to open up space before the prop forcefully fended off the attempted tackles.

As the clock ran down, on-loan Muizz Mustapha scored the pick of his side’s scores after a strong carry from McAvoy set Evan Simons off upfield and into position to release Young into space.

With the fullback fixing the last man, he laid on a precise pass to send the back-row clear for his second try in two games.

Gill completed his impressive shift with his fourth try took Thunder past the 60 point mark as they opted to run the fifth tackle from 40 meters out, as pace and slick hands got him around the hosts’ defence before Simons broke free and scored as the full-time hooter sounded.

Thunder are next in action on Sunday week against Oldham when a trip to the Vestacare stadium sees second play third.

Newcastle Thunder

Lewis Young, Misi Taulapapa, Rhys Clarke, Kieran Gill, Alex Clegg, Quentin Laulu-Togagae, Nick Newman, Joel Edwards, Keal Carlile, Liam McAvoy, Muizz Mustapha, Harry Aldous, Evan Simons, Sam Luckley, Aaron Ollett, Jared Blanke, Carne Doyle-Manga

Tries: Edwards (x2), Clegg, QLT, Gill (x4), Young, Taulapapa, Clarke, Mustapha, Simons

Goals: Clarke 8/13

West Wales Raiders

Phil Cowburn, Rob Matamosi, Rowland Kaye, Archie Snook, Sam Baker, Steve Parry, Tyler Hunt, Dalton Desmond-Walker, Mitchell Shaw, Sam Herron, Dan Maiden, Gioele Celerino, Morgan Evans, Joe McClean, Alan Pope, Aneurin Walker, Chris Vitalini

Tries: Cowburn

Goal: Cowburn 1/1