Raiders crash to first defeat of the season

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club crashed to their first defeat of the season on Saturday when they went down 49-14 at Hartpury College in National 2 South.

That follows the nine successive wins Raiders started the campaign with and they host leaders Richmond, who still have a perfect record of 10 wins from as many games, this Saturday (2pm).

Raiders head coach Kieron Dawson is calling on his side to forget about Saturday and said: “We just have to forget about it and move on. Nothing has really changed, we’re still in second place and the top-of-the-league side are heading here on Saturday.

“Hartpury got off to a flyer and we got off to a poor start, which was very unlike us and they punished us badly.

“We were nearly 40 points down at half-time but we rallied in the second half and showed good spirit but it was just a bad day at the office.

“Hartpury were very strong and have a lot of Gloucester Academy players. Their back line was young and fast and they had wiley old players in the forwards, who were street-wise.

“They took apart our defence and played much better than us.

“We had a three-and-a-half-hour trip in the coach down there and we started the game as if we hadn’t got off the coach. We then tried to chase the game and they punished us.

“Something like that can happen. Well played to them, they played great rugby, beat us on the day and we’ll just take it on the chin and move onwards and upwards. You sometimes learn from adversity more than winning and it just shows that we have to always be on our game.”

Raiders, without Charlie McGowan, Jamie Redmayne, James Arthur, Finlay Coxon-Smith, Darren Clayton and Paul Dunckley, who was injured in the warm-up, trailed 39-0 at half-time.

The division’s joint top scorer Alex Nielsen, who now has 12 tries, and Matt McLean touched down for Worthing in the second half, with the division’s leading kicker McLean putting over both conversions to move on to 102 points from the boot this season.

Dawson is now looking forward to Richmond’s visit on Saturday and said: “It’s going to be a great game and, hopefully, it will be in front of a big crowd. Fingers crossed, we get everyone who’s injured back available because we need all of the experience, guile and know-how we can get.”

After the game on Saturday, Worthing have a fireworks display at the club, which begins at 7pm.

WORTHING: Luke, Briggs, Richards, McLean, Nielsen, Dudley, Govett; Cleveland, Miles, Burns, Stutchbury, Emmerson, Stubbs, Hewick, Smith. Subs: Iraizoz, Gue, Dawson, Costigan, Buoy.