WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club suffered a controversial last-minute penalty try defeat away to lowly Dings Crusaders on Saturday.
It was Raiders’ turn to suffer late on this week, and all after they had staged a second-half fight back from 19-10 down to lead 22-19 in the closing stages.
But, as the home side pushed for points in the final minutes, defending Worthing conceded a penalty and after a second infringement, relegation-threatened Dings were rewarded a penalty try to win 26-22.
Worthing head coach Kieron Dawson, however, praised his side’s effort, but admitted, technically, they got it wrong and played to Dings’ strength – something they need to address if they are going to push for promotion.
He said: “It was disappointing, but I can’t fault the guys effort levels. We didn’t play too clever, though, we played into their hands with a tight game on a wet pitch against a big pack.
“Tactically, we were naïve and we need to realise that if we are going to compete at higher levels, then we have to play to a high tempo.
“We did play reasonably well and I’d like to think the players now realise the tempo we need to play at to win, as we are not big or strong enough to play at a slow tempo.
“It was a strange decision for the penalty try right at the death as well, so we are very disappointed.”
Two penalties from Mitch Burton in a fragmented first half-hour gave Dings a 6-0 lead, before Raiders hit back.
Matt McLean picked up a clearance and off-loaded to Alex Nielsen, who found Paul Dunckley out wide and he touched down.
McLean sent over the conversion and then added a penalty before half-time to give Worthing a 10-6 lead.
Dings started strongly after the break and hit back to open up a healthy lead.
Steve Plummer touched down their first try on 41 minutes, Burton added a penalty nine minutes later and winger Sam Craven latched onto a cross-field kick on 52 minutes to give them a 19-10 advantage.
With the replacements on, Raiders kicked up a gear and Alex Wilcockson sent the ball into the 22 and a maul was driven over with Jamie Redmayne touching down.
Another fine McLean conversion brought Raiders to within two points, before taking the lead from the restart. Joe Govett fielded his own kick and crashed over to put Raiders ahead, all before their hard work was undone with the late penalty try.
Worthing also handed a debut to winger Tim Holgate, who is on loan from London Scottish.
Raiders have a free week on Saturday.