WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson is taking great positives from his side’s start to life in National 1.
The former Ireland international has seen his side take three points from their opening two matches in the third tier and believes they can even be a top-four side with the qualities they’ve shown.
Dawson admitted he was devastated on Saturday as small margins saw Raiders edged out 27-22 at Roundstone Lane by an experienced and clinical Blackheath.
It was the Rugby Park’s first taste of National 1, and despite a late converted Geoff Griffiths try, which swung the game in the visitors’ favour, there is great expectation from the Raiders camp.
That stems from the fact they could have two wins to their name already, not two losses, although they’re on the way to their target of four points from the first four matches.
Raiders could and should have beaten Blackheath on Saturday and Dawson said: “I think some days you come off the pitch and think that was one we could have won, today (Saturday) we come off the pitch thinking that was one we should have won.
“We had so many opportunities in the first half, a little slip here, little stumble by someone down in this corner.
“I have said all along it is going to be a learning curve, but I am really disappointed as we played all the rugby in that game. It was great entertainment throughout and we played lovely stuff, defended brilliantly and four mistakes cost us four tries that’s the difference at this level.
“We were definitely the best side which is disappointing, but something to take positives from. We just need to tidy up a few areas, get some guys back, there was a lot of possession we handed over at line-out time if we can get Matt (Miles) and Charlie (McGowan) back in that mix-up then all of a sudden we are looking like, dare I say it, a top four side.
“I am genuinely gutted and the squad is gutted that we didn’t win today against a side who I think were top five last year. They came here with all their reputation all their history and we outplayed them from minute one to minute 80.
“Even in the last minute we could have stolen it with a great manufactured try, not a lucky flukey try. The lads are deflated, but I am very positive.”
More from Dawson and preview to this week’s trip to full-time side Doncaster Knights in this week’s paper.