AFTER the dust settled on a season that exceeded expectations, but yet ended in disappointment, Worthing Raiders Rugby Club’s kicker, the league’s top scorer, Matt McLean, has set his sights on the title in the next campaign.
McLean led the way in National 2 South’s points-scoring table with an impressive 341 points from a fantastic season.
He put down 19 tries, as well as securing a huge number of points with the boot from conversions and penalties, but he’s hoping he can score even more next year to lead Raiders not only to promotion, but to the title.
McLean admitted the club had exceeded all of their original expectations this season and were delighted with a third-placed finish, although there was a twinge of disappointment having worked themselves into the promotion race, but then just missing out.
Old Albanians took the title with a nine-point margin over Worthing, while Richmond, who finished second, then secured victory in the play-off over Caldy to achieve promotion.
On his personal season, McLean said: “I think it was quite tight (for the top points scorer) most of the season, but towards the end I managed to get a couple of big scores.
“Personally, it’s a massive achievement as there are a lot of good kickers in the national leagues, so it’s good to finish right up there.
“When you’ve had a good season, you have more opportunities to kick a few more points, but, saying that, 19 tries is a good personal tally.”
It was Worthing’s highest-ever finish in the National League as they won 23 of their 30 matches, losing just once at home, and McLean believes they have positively over-achieved.
He said: “I think when we sat down at the end of last season, with the new structure of the club, with Kieron Dawson coming in, we were looking at the top five or six. But when the season started and we were going really well with nine or 10 games unbeaten, and we then turned over Richmond, from there we started to believe it was possible to finish in the top two.
“We did find ourselves slightly disappointed. And if you look back on times and talk about games like Dings when we lost in the last four minutes – had we won that we probably would have placed second. But, at the start of the year, the top two wasn’t something the boys had even anticipated until the season went on.
“So, yeah, there was an element of disappointment as you would imagine after the hard work we’d put in, but it was also such an achievement, anyway – to achieve what was our top-ever finish in the national leagues.”
But McLean, who did not miss a game for Raiders all season, knows just how to soothe that disappointment.
He said: “On to next year, we are looking firstly to win it and, if not, get the play-off place.
“What we’ve had problems with is drafting players in from outside the county. The way it was was players outside looking in and us recruiting them, now it’s starting to turn the other way round which is always good.
“Old Albanians and Richmond were the two strongest teams in the league both in depth and finance so with them going up it leaves the door open for us, although there will be Henley, Hartpury, and I have a feeling Launceston will be up there as well.”
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