Dawson targets an immediate return

Kieron Dawson

Kieron Dawson

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WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson is targeting an immediate return to National 1 after his side’s relegation was confirmed on Saturday.

Raiders’ 33-20 defeat at Old Albanian means they will drop back down into National 2 South after just one season in National 1.

Dawson said: “The over-riding feeling on Saturday was that we want to come straight back up and that will be our goal when we start next season.

“It’s been a great adventure in National 1 and has been a real roller coaster for all of the players and the staff

“We’ve enjoyed playing in National 1, visiting big, traditional English clubs who play at nice grounds with great crowds.

“It’s where we want to be playing and we’ll be looking to win the National 2 South title next season.”

Dawson also admitted that the club has learned a lot from their experience in National 1 and said: “Every little mistake you make at this level, you get punished.

“Our set-piece let us down and our game management wasn’t up to what it should be. A lot of the time we played in the wrong areas as well but we will learn from all of that.

“We know where we need to strengthen but we played some lovely rugby over the course of the season, scored more than 100 tries but it was just those one or two errors in every game that cost us.”

It will be a busy summer at Roundstone Lane as Raiders look to assemble a team to try to win promotion back up at the first attempt and Dawson said: “A few players will have attracted a bit of interest from a few other clubs.

“There could be a few retiring and some will move on but that’s the nature of sport.

“We’ll be trying to bring in some new faces and we’ll be a lot more pro-active than we were last summer.”

Raiders have one more match to play in National 1, at home to Wharfedale on April 26, and Dawson said: “We want to finish on a high.

“A lot of guys can rest bumps and bruises with a week off and some guys who haven’t had a chance this season might deserve a run-out as we begin to plan for next season.”