WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club ended their season exactly the way they started it - with a 38-34 defeat to Wharfedale.
Raiders lost their maiden game in National 1 away to the Yorkshire-based side in September and finished it losing by the same scoreline, despite running in six tries.
Worthing’s relegation was confirmed two weeks ago but they started the game brightly and touched down their first try after just ten minutes. Jordan Burns raced home from his own half after a fine break from Pete Cleveland and Matt McLean added the extras.
Wharfedale responded within a minute through Jack Barnard and Tom Barrett’s conversion levelled the score.
Just two minutes later, Raiders were back ahead as Alex Nielsen went over in the corner but McLean was unable to convert.
Wharfedale were in front on 15 minutes as Joe Donkin touched down and Barrett converted to make the score 14-12.
Nielsen got his second try from Ollie Richards’ pass on 22 minutes but McLean’s conversion went wide as Worthing moved 17-14 ahead.
Barrett kicked a penalty wide for the visitors on 30 minutes, before Raiders extended their lead on 34 minutes. Liam Perkins stretched over to touch down but McLean was again off target with the conversion.
Wharfedale cut Raiders’ lead to a point by half-time. William Bell broke forward and released Josh Burridge, who ran through to touch down. Barrett’s conversion made the half-time score 22-21.
The visitors went back ahead on 52 minutes - with Raiders’ Chris Sewell and Wharfedale’s Aaron Myers in the sinbin - as Tom Davidson went over and Barrett again converted.
The back-and-forth nature of the game continued, though, as Raiders were only behind for three minutes. Perkins found Nielsen, who ran through to complete his hat-trick under the posts, and McLean’s conversion took Worthing 29-28 ahead.
Charlie McGowan increased Raiders’ lead on 59 minutes but McLean was unable to add the extra two points.
Wharfedale enjoyed a spell of pressure before they took the lead again on 65 minutes. Chris Steel touched down after Myers was held up and Davidson converted.
Raiders lost Sam Hewick to a yellow card on 69 minutes and Davidson nailed a penalty on 73 minutes to put the visitors four points ahead.
Worthing went close to snatching the win late on but Ben Loosmore was pushed into touch in the corner, before Rob Smith was unable to cleanly catch the resulting Wharfedale line-out.
Full match report, pictures and reaction in next week’s paper.