WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson admitted he could not have wished for a better start to their National League 2 South campaign as they continued their 100 per cent start on Saturday.
Raiders won 38-28 at Westcombe Park, as tries from Alex Nielsen (two), Matt Miles, Sam Hewick and Charlie McGowan, along with three Matt McLean penalties and two conversions, had given Raiders a comfortable 38-10 lead early in the second half.
But, with Dawson ringing the changes, Westcombe grabbed the ascendancy and, as they had done in their previous two games, staged a second-half fight-back to run Worthing close.
Dawson said: “Overall, it was very pleasing and another place where we have not won before, so to not only win, but come away with a bonus point is a, proverbial, bonus.
“I was disappointed in the second-half performance. It’s a fine balance as a coach as to when you need to rest a few guys and get other guys a run-out.
“Our subs disrupted things and resulted in them getting back in the game and getting a bonus point, which disappointed us all.”
On if Raiders could have started the season any better, Dawson said: “No, certainly not. I am very, very happy. We had a very pleasing home win last weekend, and have won against Clifton and Westcombe, who are both teams we hadn’t beaten away.”
It was Westcombe who opened the scoring as Luke Giles converted a penalty, but the league’s top-scoring kicker was not to be outdone as McLean put over two penalties to give Raiders the lead.
McLean then off-loaded to Nielsen who paced straight to the line, and with McLean adding the conversion, Raiders were in control.
McLean added another penalty, before a Raiders’ attack swung left and Nielsen crossed again for his second try. McGowan put down Worthing’s third before the break as they led 26-3 at half-time.
Miles’ try, shortly after the break, took Raiders tally to 31, but as Worthing started to use their replacements, Westcombe began to retain possession and a run to the try line by Kieran Leeper saw them touch down a converted try.
Raiders did strike again after lineout, as Hewick went over and McLean’s conversion made it 38-10.
The home side, however, kept on going, and, as Raiders lost momentum, two tries and a conversion took the score to 38-21 and another well-worked converted try saw the home side claim a four-try bonus point.
Raiders host Shelford on Saturday. James Arthur and Mickey Pointing are likely to still be out injured.
WORTHING: McLean, Nielsen, Richards, Clayton, Briggs, Dudley, Govett, Cleveland, Miles, Burns, Stutchbury, McGowan, Hewick, Redmayne, Stubbs. Subs: Smith, Webster, Metters, Maslin, Iraizoz.