WILL Green waved goodbye to Roundstone Lane on Saturday with a victory, their first ever over Clifton, to give Worthing Raiders Rugby Club a shot at still claiming the league’s sixth spot with a win in their final game.
A 37-30 win over Clifton, in what was the head coach’s last home game in charge, means they can definitely secure a seventh-placed finish in National 2 South with a win on Saturday at Westcombe Park.
Although, with current sixth and seventh-placed sides Henley and Taunton playing each other this weekend, in the unlikely event of a draw, a Raiders win would put them sixth on games-won difference.
But Raiders team manager David Hinchliffe insists they face a tough challenge to beat battling Westcombe Park.
He said: “It won’t be easy for us as they are fighting for their lives and if they lose they will be down.
“They are six points adrift at the moment so will be relegated if they don’t beat us. They strengthened just before the close of the transfer deadline and have been playing better of late.
“Until a couple of weeks ago they would have been favourites to beat the drop, but have lost a couple in the past two weeks.”
But it being Green’s last game with the club, Raiders will also be fired up and Hinchliffe added: “The boys will want to finish on a high for Will.
“I think that contributed on Saturday. After that nervy patch around half-time, they really fought back and wanted a win for him in his last home game in front of our own supporters.
“We all want to finish in the highest place possible, seventh or even sixth if we are lucky, so there is that, as well as the fact they will want to win the last game for Will. The second team are also playing at Westcombe as well, so it’s going to be a real club day out.”
On Saturday, an impressive start saw Raiders race into a 27-5 lead after 30 minutes. Worthing then wobbled after Clifton’s second try and Clifton pulled back to draw level with further tries either side of half-time.
Matt McLean, who was in fine kicking form, sent over the first score with a penalty on nine minutes.
Charlie McGowan ran in the first try seven minutes later, McLean obliged with the boot and added a penalty for good measure soon afterwards.
Clifton pulled one try back, before McGowan’s second try, one for Will Stutchbury, both of which McLean converted, saw them go 27-5 ahead.
Then, as Raiders kicked forward, a hit on Arthur, when not in possession, was missed by the referee, led to Clifton claiming the ball and running in their second try.
With Raiders still recovering two minutes later, and the match in added time, Clifton ran in their third try, which was also converted, to take the score to 27-17 at the break.
Two minutes after the restart Clifton touched down another converted try, then put over a penalty to level the scores at 27-27.
A McLean penalty on 52 minutes restored Worthing’s lead, while they then crossed the line twice only to have play pulled back.
The pressure finally told, however, as Sam Hewick crossed and McLean converted to hand them a 37-27 lead, although Clifton did put over a penalty to rescue a losing bonus point on 76 minutes.
Hinchcliffe said: “We lost by one point down there, so it was nice to put that right, and it’s also the first time we have beaten them since they have been in the league.”
Green added: “It was a really good win and a tough game.
“It was a good game of rugby for the time of the year and it’s the first time we’ve beaten them.
“It was a good way for me to finish at home and was good fun.
“Our sponsors Bowers & Wilkins were very generous and gave me a gift and I was delighted to go out with the win here.
“We’re focused on winning our final game at Westcombe Park on Saturday now.
“They need to beat us to stay up but we have our own agenda, which is winning the game and, realistically, coming seventh.”
WORTHING: Pointing, Miles, Webster, Stutchbury, McGowan, Arthur, Redmayne, Smith, Costigan, Dudley, Nielsen, Dunckley, Sullivan, Briggs, McLean. Subs: Hewick, Gue, Coxon-Smith, Marsh, Govett.