WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club secured a crucial bonus-point victory in their battle for survival in National 1 this afternoon.
Tries from Kiba Richards (two), Ollie Richards, Matt Miles and Alex Nielsen secured a 34-17 victory over basement side Hull Ionians at Roundstone Lane.
Although, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the hosts, who threw away a early 19-0 lead to be just 19-14 ahead at half-time.
The second half, however, saw Raiders produce a professional display to close out the match and secure a crucial five points.
Raiders had the luxury of an almost fully-fit squad to select from and made six changes from side that lost at Coventry two weeks ago.
Nielsen, Ben Dudley, Scott Barlow and Liam Perkins all came into starting line-up, with Chris Sewell dropping to the bench and Richard Palframan missing out through an injury picked up in training.
Some of the other absentees - Jack Maslen, Jamie Redmayne, Rob Smith, Joe Heaver, and Matt McLean, on his return to action, travelled with Raiders’ A side for their clash at Richmond.
Raiders had a golden chance to take the lead in the second minute as Hull were penalised for not rolling away straight from the kick-off, but Joe Govett pulled the kick left of the posts.
The home side responded with a powerful drive forwards from Barlow, before Neilsen was stopped as he attempted to jinx past the opposing full-back. This produced a sustained period of Raiders’ pressure, but after being held up on the line, the ball was turned over.
Worthing’s dominating start soon paid off though, as Ollie Richards broke through and offloaded to Kiba Richards, who palmed off two tackles to power over from the 22 in the eighth minute.
On 12 minutes, Joe Govett was penalised for not rolling away from a tackle, but Isaac Green’s long kick at the posts fell just wide.
The home side were soon back in their stride, however, with two tries in as many minutes.
First, a lovely interception saw Ollie Richards break through and stroll across unchallenged, before, in the 16th minute, Kiba Richards profited from an excellent Perkins break to side step past the last line of Hull defence.
Govett slotted over the extras for both to give Raiders a deserved 19-0 lead.
Despite Raiders’ early dominance, a scrappy period of play and numerous penalties given away gave Hull a grip back on the game, and they pulled a try back on 27 minutes
A fast change of pace from Joe Barker allowed him to race clear and offload for Chris Reakes to ease home. Just two minutes later, Hull hit Worthing again, who were still napping, with Alex Campbell grounding in the far corner.
With two conversions from the boot of Green, Worthing’s comfortable lead was cut to just five points with the score at 19-14.
Hull continued to up the intensity to control the rest of the half, and Raiders were lucky not to be behind at half-time after a period of sustained pressure came from a five-metre scrum which was eventually held up.
Raiders had Sam Hewick yellow carded on 43 minutes with the referee, after talking to his touch judge, signalling a raking motion with the boot, which seemed bizarre as Hewick was on the floor at the time.
The home side then spurned two chances to cross as Govett slipped when bearing down on the try line, before Kieran Leeming’s pass to Nielsen flew into touch.
Worthing then lost their own line-out on 52 minutes, which led to an offside infringement and Green slotted over another three points to take the score to 19-17.
With Raiders back up to a full quota, a good break from Simon Gaynor saw the ball pop up nicely for Miles who dived across to secure the bonus point.
With Govett’s extra attempt on the money, Worthing gave themselves a nine-point cushion with 23 minutes remaining.
Govett was again on target on 65 minutes with another penalty to take the score to 29-17.
Three minutes later and Worthing appeared to have found their rhythm again as a period of sustained pressure saw lovely high pass from Leeming skip two players to find Nielsen out wide, who dived across to kill off Hull’s hopes.
WORTHING: Leeming, Loosmore, O.Richards, K.Richards, Nielsen, Dudley, Govett, Sargent, Miles, Joe Burns, Gaynor, Barlow, Chisholm, Hewick, Perkins. Subs: Cleveland, McGowan, Jordan Burns (Dudley, Gaynor, Joe Burns 58), Sewell (Perkins 69), Pointing (Miles 72).
HULL: Naylor, Slingsby, Reakes, Thundercliffe, Wilson, Barker, Green, Quigley, Rice, Johnson, Makin, Sanders, Wigham, Topkington, Campbell. Subs: Longbone, Thomson, Kay, Heylings, Martin.
Report, reaction and pictures in this week’s paper.