Dawson has faith Raiders won’t slip up

Scott Barlow
Scott Barlow

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson has faith that his side will not slip up in their National 2 South title charge.

Raiders were left frustrated at the weekend as their top-of-the-table clash at second-placed Henley fell victim to the weather, with Dry Leas pitch left part waterlogged and part snow-covered.

With it now looking a two-horse race for the league crown, after third-placed Redruth lost 15-14 to Dings on Saturday, Henley will now host Worthing on May 4 for what could be a title showdown.

Dawson, however, is hoping that with Henley’s tough run-in, where they face Chinnor, Redruth and Hartpury, will mean his side can wrap up promotion and the title before that clash in May.

He said: “It would have been nice to get it out of the way to see where the land lies, but things could come down to a winner-takes-all showdown at the end of the season, which is great for the fans.

“It was a shame for the players as they had been building up to it all week, so to have it called off on Saturday morning was frustrating.

“They (Henley) only need to slip up against one of the other sides they have to play now. Looking at the run-ins, on paper, they certainly have the tougher one. Even if they keep winning and picking up bonus points along the way, we have a very deep squad and, hopefully, we can look after our senior players.

“But we all know games are not won on paper, they are won on Saturday afternoons, but I am not worried about that as the players all desperately want it and I do not think they are going to let it slip away from them.”

Saturday’s match was called off by the match referee after a 9.30am inspection, with Raiders receiving the call early enough to prevent them and a coach load of fans setting off on a fruitless journey

Redruth’s defeat was one of only two games played in the division and it leaves them with a mountain to climb to get back in the chase, but Dawson is still wary of their impact.

He said: “I think it rules Redruth out of it. In some ways it’s a good thing, in other ways it could mean they take their eye of the ball for when they play Henley. But I am sure that won’t happen as they have that mentality of the Cornish boys and will want to get one over on Henley.”

Raiders now turn their attention to the visit of Southend, fresh from their 15-11 win over Canterbury in the only other National 2 South game last weekend, to Roundstone Lane on Saturday.

Dawson has the same squad available to pick from as the one that was set to go to Henley with Joe Burns, Jordan Burns, Luke Peters and Finlay Coxon-Smith all back available having missed the last win over Shelford. But Scott Barlow may drop into the A side to get some needed game time. Kick-off at Roundstone Lane on Saturday is 3pm.

Supporters at the game will be able to have their photos taken with the LV Cup and Premiership trophy, as part of Raiders’ community partnership with Harlequins.