ROB Smith wept tears of joy on Saturday after touching down the try that saw Worthing Raiders Rugby Club promoted into National 1 for the first time in their history.
In the most dramatic of endings to a season, Raiders sealed promotion at Stourbridge in the last play of the game. Smith touched down to level the scores – at 26-26, five minutes into added time – and Joe Govett’s conversion won the game, with the very last kick of a campaign which began nine months ago.
Trailing 26-21, injury-hit Raiders, who missed out on the National 2 South title after a 55-27 defeat at Henley last week, were encamped near the Stourbridge line in the closing stages. After being held up a couple of times, Smith found a gap to dive over under the posts to leave Govett a simple conversion, albeit under enormous pressure, to take Raiders up.
Speaking after the match, Smith, who has been with Worthing for 10 years, said: “It’s amazing, I’ve got tears in my eyes as I’m saying it. It means a lot, more than words can say and I couldn’t do it justice.
“The boys have been fantastic all season and everyone has put the effort in. We started off this season and we said we wanted to get promoted, that was the main thing, that was the objective.
“We’ve had six or seven big injuries and we are not a big squad but we’re not just team-mates, we’re like brothers. Everyone has just mucked in and everyone has pulled tight.
“Last week (at Henley) was a massive, massive dent on our egos and today we needed to prove a point. We did it the hard way but we proved a point. Full credit to all the boys, everyone put it in.
“Despite the losses we’ve taken this season injury-wise, we’ve managed to obtain what we wanted to.”
On the game, which saw the runners-up of Division 2 North and Division 2 South take each other on for promotion into National 1, Smith said: “That was tough, really tough. All credit to Stourbridge, they really did put it in.
“They were knocked off first spot in their league last week, while we played one of the biggest games of our lives (at Henley) and again this week.
“They came out and gave it everything and it took until the last section of the game for me to drag my sorry old backside over the line.”