Four wins from five now Raiders’ target

Kieron Dawson
Kieron Dawson

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson is targeting four wins from his side’s last five matches to secure their National 1 status.

Raiders threw away a 21-13 half-time lead at relegation-rivals Cinderford on Saturday to lose 32-31, which leaves them in a precarious position, just a place above the bottom three.

A last-gasp Jordan Burns try rescued two bonus points for Raiders and kept them three points ahead of Cinderford, who occupy the last relegation place, but have three games in hand.

After Saturday’s set-back, Dawson is targeting four victories from their last five games to avoid an immediate return to National 2 South next season.

The former Ireland international admitted he was a frustrated man on Saturday – but also said the two bonus points could be crucial come May.

He said: “It was a very frustrating afternoon, but at least we picked up a couple of bonus points at the end, as, at one point, it looked like we were coming back with nothing.

“It was good character to keep going and good to get the extra couple of points as they could be crucial come the end of the season.

“We have probably got to win at least four of the last five games and hope other results go our way now.

“I know a lot of the other teams are playing each other and they can’t all win. We did not need to be in this position, though. So often we have come so close in games and just picked up bonus points, instead of wins.”

Dawson hailed his side’s first half performance as they ran in three tries to assert control, despite playing into a stiff breeze.

But losing Scott Barlow to a neck injury at half-time and Rob Smith shortly afterwards, saw the game swing in the hosts’ favour.

Dawson said: “We were brilliant in the first half and just played it simple.

“It was unfortunate we lost Scott Barlow at half-time as he hurt his neck – actually he did well to make it through the first half, really. Rob Smith ran out of steam just after that and they were our two most physical players.

“When we lost the physicality of those two we struggled and they started to get over the gain line.

“They started to dominate possession and we lost our way in the scrum and line-out as they started to take control – it was quite frustrating to watch.

“We made a couple of bad decisions and, all in all, it was probably a fair result. After how in control we were in the first half, though, we were hoping to get a lot more out of it.”

Raiders have a free week on Saturday and there are only two matches taking place in National 1, both crucial to Raiders’ plight, as Cinderford host Richmond and Henley Hawks entertain Blaydon.