WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club coach Kieron Dawson was full of praise for his players after they increased their winning start to the season to eight games on Saturday.
They won 10-9 at third-placed Henley Hawks, who had won all seven of their games heading into the National League 2 South match, and Dawson, whose side sit second, two points behind leaders Richmond, said: “We’re very happy with the result and I’ve got nothing but praise for the players.
“They showed great guts and determination when we were up against it for long spells.
“We had three players sinbinned, so had to play 30 minutes with 14 men and the referee then added on 12 minutes of injury-time when there had been no injuries in the second half.
“I felt we deserved to win the game by 20 points but it was a very bizarre performance by the referee, which was a shame.
“We saw in the morning of the game (Wales versus France) that a referee can sometimes dominate a game and that it can be ruined. It was a very frustrating game but we worked very hard, although still could have lost a game that we deserved to win and I’d have been very angry if we had lost.”
Henley had the chance to win the game in injury-time when they were awarded a penalty 40 metres out, in front of the posts, but James Comben hooked his kick wide.
Raiders had started the game strongly, despite having Rob Smith sinbinned early on, and they were 10-0 ahead after 22 minutes.
Matt McLean kicked Raiders 3-0 ahead with a penalty on 15 minutes and after Worthing won a lineout, Sam Hewick passed to Jamie Redmayne, who touched down near the posts after a strong run.
McLean kicked the extras before Comben responded with two penalties and Raiders then had Darren Clayton yellow-carded just before half-time for an offence at a ruck.
Another Comben penalty made it 10-9 early in the second half. Worthing seemed the more likely to add to the scoring after that but loose field and penalty kicks allowed Henley to keep coming back into the game through their strong centres.
Raiders had Mike Stubbs sinbinned in the second half, before Comben missed a penalty to win it four minutes into injury-time and Henley also missed a drop-goal attempt deep in injury-time.
Raiders host mid-table Lydney on Saturday and Dawson said: “We know Lydney will be a very difficult game but I can’t praise the squad enough at the moment.
“We have 35 to 40 players who are all trying to get into the team and our second team had another good win on Saturday. Everyone has been outstanding so far and we’ve got a really good atmosphere at the club.”
RAIDERS: McLean, Wilcockson, Richards, Clayton, Nielsen, Dudley, Govett, Cleveland, Miles, Burns, Stutchbury, McGowan, Redmayne, Hewick, Smith. Subs: Stubbs, Gue, Costigan, Briggs, Dawson.