WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson conceded that his side had bigger games to come after their 45-14 defeat at Blaydon on Saturday.
Blaydon went into the game unbeaten in nine league games and comfortably beat Raiders, who took the opportunity to rest five first-choice players with two big games to come – against Old Albanian at Roundstone Lane on Saturday and then away to Blackheath – before Christmas.
Charlie McGowan and Kiba Richards did not travel, while Sam Hewick, captain Matt Miles and Joe Govett were all substitutes.
Dawson said: “We made a few changes as we’ve got bigger games to come and bigger fish to fry.
“We’d been patching Charlie and Kiba up for the last few games, Matt as well, and they’d been going from game to game without training.
“We thought it was a chance to give them some time off and have a heavy week in training this week, ahead of two big games.
“If we can pick up six or seven points from the next two games, then we’re going to be in a much better position.”
Blaydon made a quick start on Saturday and had the four-try bonus point wrapped up after just 29 minutes.
A driving line-out score by Jason Smithson in the third minute began the scoring, before Tom Jeffery, Keith Laughlin and then Smithson, again from another maul, made it 26-0 at half-time.
Raiders improved in the second half, although Sean Brown did touch down again for the hosts to increase their lead, before Worthing scored two tries.
Hewick went in from close range, before Alex Nielsen touched down his 13th try of the season after a fortuitious bounce. Finlay Coxon-Smith converted both tries.
Blaydon had the final say, though, as hooker Fran Entressengle and Tom Banks both touched down in the closing stages.
Dawson said: “We were under the cosh early on and didn’t get started at all.
“They had 19 points after just ten minutes and, from then on, we were chasing the game as we conceded a few soft tries. It was a much better second-half performance, though, as we had much better focus.”
One positive for Raiders from Saturday is that the trip to the north east was their last long away trip of the season and Dawson said: “It’s a big bonus to have them all out the way already as now all the northern teams still have to come to us. They’ll all have the six or seven-hour journey now, so we’ll see how fresh they get off the coach.”
RAIDERS: Greenwood, Lasis, O.Richards, Coxon-Smith, Nielsen, Dudley, Leeming, Pointing, Cleveland, O’Sullivan, Gaynor, Barlow, Redmayne, Sewell, Perkins. Subs: Hewick (Perkins 21), Stutchbury (Sewell 38), Burns (O’Sullivan 49), Govett (Lasis 51), Miles (Pointing 72).