WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson described his side’s last-gasp defeat to National 2 South leaders Taunton Titans on Saturday as “gut-wrenching”.
Raiders led 24-9 at half-time but the visitors fought back in the second half and won with a Gary Kingdom drop goal with the last play of the game.
Dawson felt the game changed on a 50th-minute incident when Kieran Leeming attempted to kick the ball over the Taunton defence but it was charged down and Kingdom ran the length of the pitch for a converted try, which made the score 24-16.
Dawson said: “It’s very gut-wrenching. At half-time we were in control and cruising and we were then on the attack and the game changed in an instant.
“I don’t know why we tried to kick the ball anyway but it got charged down, they ran the length of the pitch and got a try at the other end.
“That changed the game and our mental fragility then kicked in. We lost a lot of games last year and we are fragile mentally.
“Two years ago, we’d have won that game by 40 points.
“Even at the end, we had the ball and should have kept it and recycled it, rather than try to run down the other end of the pitch. We then lost possession and then the scrum and they took their chance well, although I don’t think it was a game they deserved to win.”
Despite three defeats from their opening five games, Dawson still feels his side can challenge at the top this season.
Raiders sit seventh in the table and trail the top two – Henley Hawks and Taunton – by ten points but Dawson said: “We can definitely still get up there. There’s a few teams up there and they’re all going to take points off each other.
“Taunton are unbeaten and I felt we were 30 points better than them, so it was a very disappointing loss.”
Dawson will be back on the touchline for Worthing’s game at fifth-from-bottom Lydney on Saturday.
He has been banned from any form of matchday coaching for the first five weeks of the season.
Match report from Saturday’s defeat to Taunton on page 104.