WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club’s head coach Kieron Dawson wants to finish the club’s most successful-ever season on a high on Saturday (April 28).
Raiders’ National 2 South promotion hopes were ended by leaders Old Albanians on Saturday with a 50-24 defeat but their third-placed finish is still the club’s highest in its history.
Dawson is now targeting a win in the final game of the season, at home to Clifton on Saturday, and said: “We want to finish strongly to get people coming back here to support us again next season and send them into the summer on a high.
“We’ve had a great season and I’m very proud of the players. But I sat down at the start of the season with the players and the coaches and our target was to get promoted, so I’m still slightly disappointed that we haven’t, even though it’s our highest-ever finish.
“Next year, we’ve got to push even harder as Hartpury will be strong, so will Henley and it’s going to be a very tough league again.”
Old Albanians touched down two converted tries in quick succession through Ollie Marchont and Chris Lombaard on Saturday – after Raiders had made a bright start – to lead 14-0 after 14 minutes.
On 28 minutes, Raiders’ Finlay Coxon-Smith powered through the middle as Albanians killed the ruck to prevent a score under the posts. They conceded a penalty and had their flanker sinbinned and Raiders quickly took advantage.
From the scrum, the ball was swung out to Matt McLean, who freed Jack Maslen to go over. Soon afterwards, Kiba Richards found Matt McLean, whose try and conversion made the score 14-12.
McLean touched down again soon afterwards and his excellent conversion gave Worthing the lead.
Raiders were unable to hang on until half-time as Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier found Marchont who scored near the posts and the conversion gave Old Albanians a 21-19 half-time lead.
Albanians extended their advantage at the start of the second half through Andrew Daish, but Worthing were soon just two points behind again as Richards went over to make the score 26-24,
A try from an intercepted pass by Bruzulier and a penalty by Richard Gregg gave Albanians breathing space, before they added two more tries in the last five minutes.
Dawson said: “We were in it until about 10 minutes to go and the scoreline wasn’t a fair reflection.
“But the game made us realise where we need to be next season.”
RAIDERS: McLean, Maslen, Richards, Coxon-Smith, Nielsen, Dudley, Govett, Cleveland, Pointing, Burns, Stubbs, Arthur, Redmayne, Hewick, Smith. Subs: Heaver, Briggs, Lanaway, Clayton, Costigan.
The game with Clifton on Saturday is a family fun day at Roundstone Lane.
Starting from mid-day, there will be stalls, fairground rides and pony rides, as well as food and drink stands.
Under-16s get in free and adults pay just the normal match rates (£8 non-members and £5 members).