WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club made it five wins from five in National 2 South on Saturday (September 24) with a bonus-point victory over Southend, although head coach Kieron Dawson believes a second-half scare is just what his side needed.
Raiders remain third after the 38-19 win and keep pace with the league’s front runners, but having led 17-0 at the break after a dominant first-half and Southend showed their class to get back into the game after the break.
Dawson admitted the errors that allowed the home side back into the game is something positive, and said: “The good thing for me is there are still things to work on. It’s keeping us grounded and we won’t be getting ahead of ourselves.
“We looked really shaky for a spell in the second half and it shows there are no teams in this league that are push overs. It was good to get the win, but a wake-up call that we can’t fall asleep against teams.
“We showed good spirit and bottle to fight-back and good composure. I have said it before, but we are a year older than last year, and it was a match when last season we possibly would have crumbled.”
Dawson did praise his side for an excellent first-half display, however, and added: “We were with a 20-point lead at the break if not more, we completely dominated them.We got the big hits in early and the front five and Charlie McGowan were superb and set the platform for us.”
Worthing were soon on top and a Shane Costigan pass set Ben Dudley away to the left, and his accurate punt was fielded by Alex Neilsen to score at pace out wide for his seventh try of the season. Matt McLean duly added the extras with a fine kick for a 7-0 lead.
McLean the broke forwards and set away Jamie Redmayne to the line to cross with 16 minutes gone. Kiba Richards got in on the act before the break as he rode two tackles and powered across for a 17-0 lead at the break.
Southend fought back at the start of the the second half and a period of possession saw Todd Bailey break through some tackles to score to make it 7-17 with the conversion.
Raiders were soon back in business, however, as McLean again powered through to feed Alex Wilcoxon who teed up Fernando Irazioz to touch down close to the posts for a simple kick for McLean to add the extras.
But Southend were not for collapsing and a late fight-back saw them take the score to within five points.
First Martin Freeman bundled his way over and the conversion also sailed over the posts, before another try down the left from Perry Samson took the score to 24-19.
A number of Worthing changes helped the side regain control and Neilsen crossed to restore some breathing space, before Charlie McGowan crashed home under the posts and with McLean kick the match was won.
WORTHING: Mclean, Briggs, Richards, Clayton, Nielsen, Dudley, Costigan, Cleveland, Miles, Irazioz, Coxon Smith, McGowan, Smith, Redmayne, Stubbs. Subs: Hewick, Arthur, Burns, Govett, Wilcoxon.