WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson believes his side are back in business and are looking like their old selves again.
Raiders’ 29-5 home win over Southend on Saturday had Dawson hailing his side’s display again after they had lost three of their previous four matches.
Their storming start to the season, which had seen them record nine straight wins, was shadowed by a slump in performances leading up to Christmas, affected no end by a number of key players missing.
But Dawson believes Saturday saw the Raiders of old return. Worthing had Ben Dudley back from injury and with a couple of new faces soon to join the ranks, Dawson was in a buoyant mood.
He said: “It wasn’t just the result, but a much, much better performance. We played a much more expansive game, and it was a crisp day which we took advantage of and played a lot of good rugby.
“We are still recovering and maybe it wasn’t as good as it possibly could have been, but we looked like we were back to our old selves.
“We turned things around this week. Ben Dudley made a massive difference as he is vocal and fierce and his determination to win rubs off on the others.
“Having Charlie McGowan back as well, he is a quieter leader, but for people like them, it means so much to get promotion and again that rubs off on the rest of the squad.
“The spirit and determination was back and as a coach that is the one thing I can’t instil in them. We have realised we can achieve what we want when we play like that.”
A Matt McLean try after 11 minutes had put the home side ahead, although he failed to add the extras, before Matt Miles crossed on the stroke of half-time to give them a 10-point advantage at the break.
Raiders’ replacement Fernando Iraizoz was sinbinned seven minutes into the second half and Southend pulled a try back to make the score 10-5.
Jamie Redmayne touched down a minute after Iraizoz returned to the fold and McLean added the extras.
The visitors played the closing stages with just 13 men as Chris Waring picked up a yellow with eight minutes left, as did Andrew McClintock five minutes later.
Raiders took advantage as Kiba Richards crossed on 78 minutes and Jack Maslen put down the fifth of the afternoon five minutes later as McLean added the extras.
Dawson admitted he may have a selection headache on his hands next week, with James Arthur playing for the second team this week, and others coming back in contention.
He said: “There maybe some new recruits coming in as well, one forward and one new back, as the squad got stretched before Christmas and we don’t want that again – we don’t want an old guy like me on the bench again, I’ve hung up my boots.”