WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson could not fault his players after an agonising last-minute defeat at Blackheath on Saturday.
The hosts touched down the winning try in the final minute, aided by a lucky bounce, as Raiders suffered yet another narrow defeat.
The 16-14 loss was the seventh time they have lost by six points or fewer this season and came just a week after a one-point defeat at home to Old Albanian.
Dawson said: “It was a fantastic performance. There have been times when I’ve been vocal, frustrated and annoyed at performances but that wasn’t the case this time.
“The players put their bodies on the line in horrible conditions in front of a big, vocal crowd away from home.
“It was a great performance but, again, it wasn’t a game that we could have won, it was a game we should have won and that was the disappointing thing.
“We need to learn to start closing these type of games out. We just needed to keep hold of the ball and run down the clock but an aimless kick forward gave them back possession.
“They kicked it forward and then after a lucky bounce and a missed tackle, they score in the corner to win the game.
“We had complete control and, last year, we’d have closed the game out as we were on a winning streak.
“This year, we’re on a losing streak and we get the yips a bit and we do things that we know aren’t the right things to do.
“Instead of kicking the ball, we should have held on to it or kicked it into touch.
“But I think a bit of panic just set in and it’s a gut-wrenching loss.
“We’re optimistic heading into the new year, though. Hopefully, we’ll be able to start turning the narrow losses into narrow wins and pick up another six or seven wins in the second half of the season.”
There was a penalty each early on as Blackheath kicked their one over, while Joe Govett was just off target with his for Raiders.
In a swirling crossfield wind and heavy rain, Worthing took the lead by half-time as Scott Barlow touched down under the posts and Govett converted to make the score 7-3 at the break.
Blackheath cut the gap to a point with a penalty in the second half, before Raiders increased their lead with a driving maul and Matt Miles touched down, with Govett adding the extras.
Blackheath got an unconverted try back after a kick forward, before they touched down again in the final minute for the win after a fortunate bounce.
Raiders dropped a place to fifth from bottom, while Blackheath are now just a place and three points behind Worthing.