Dawson looks to next season as Raiders end on a high

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WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club finished their excellent season on a high with a comfortable victory over mid-table Clifton on Saturday.

After their promotion hopes were ended by Old Albanians, who lifted the National 2 South title on Saturday, Raiders ended the season with their 14th win from their 15 home games.

Worthing head coach Kieron Dawson was pleased with how the season went overall but also looked back on a couple of results which cost his side as Raiders finished just four points behind second-placed Richmond.

He said: “It’s a pleasing end to the season but it’s just disappointing the games that got away from us during the season just after Christmas.

“While it’s been a great season and we’ve been playing some great rugby, it’s tinged with disappointment that we didn’t see it through as we had the chance to get in the top two.

“But we’ve learned a lot and we’ll take it with us to go again next year, when we’ll be a bit more steely and determined now.

“It’s a pleasing way to go out today, especially with the weather (wet and windy). We’ve proved that we can play that way even in the conditions because a couple of games that we lost, particularly against Dings, we didn’t think we could play our expansive game in those conditions, but we’ve shown we can.

“It will be nice to have a little break now but we’ll all look forward to getting back into it when we start training at the beginning of July.”

Saturday’s game, which was a family fun day at Roundstone Lane, with funfair rides and pony rides, was a comfortable end to the season for Raiders against a Clifton team who turned up with no replacements.

Raiders got the opening try after just seven minutes when Matt McLean broke and off-loaded to Joe Govett, who touched down. McLean added the extras but Clifton narrowed the gap four minutes later when Ben Roberts kicked a penalty.

Worthing extended their lead on 17 minutes when Clifton over threw a line-out to Jamie Redmayne, who passed to Mickey Pointing to go over, although McLean’s conversion went just wide.

Clifton kept Raiders out with strong defending until the last play of the first half when some quick passing found McLean, who twisted his way past the man on the line to go over and he added the extras to make the half-time score 19-3.

Substitute Matt Farnes increased Raiders’ lead as he touched down with his first touch on 47 minutes, within 30 seconds of entering the play, after Ben Dudley and McLean had set him free. McLean again nailed the conversion and he then dived over for his second try two minutes later and kicked the extra two points to make the score 33-3.

Govett set up Raiders’ top try-scorer Alex Nielsen to go over between the posts for his 24th of the season on 56 minutes and McLean easily kicked the extras.

McLean went over to complete his hat-trick from Dudley’s kick and he again converted on 67 minutes, before Clifton got a converted try back on 76 minutes after a spell of pressure on Raiders’ line.

Worthing completed the scoring in the final minute when debutant Chris Sewell broke and freed Kiba Richards to go over. McLean kicked his seventh successful conversion from eight attempts to finish the season with 332 points, with 18 tries, 79 conversions and 28 penalties.