Worthing Raiders head coach Jody Levett hailed his side's character after they avoided the National 2 South drop yesterday.
Raiders went into their final game of the season against already-relegated Exmouth knowing that anything less than a win would not be enough to ensure their National League status.
Levett’s men did all they could, running in eight tries on the way to an emphatic bonus-point 50-5 success at Roundstone Lane.
There was then a nervy wait at the final whistle, while news filtered through of results in other matches.
Fortunately for Raiders, Barnes, Barnstaple and London Irish Wild Geese, who started the day above them in the table, were all beaten ensuring
Worthing moved up three places to finish 12th and end the season three places above the relegation zone.
Levett admitted it was far from an ideal situation his side found themselves in but felt a sense of relief after they ensured another season at this level.
He said: “We spoke at Christmas and said it could well come down to the last game of the season. This was never something that we wanted to happen and the aim was to make sure our fate was always in our own hands.
“We threw away opportunities earlier in the season, we’d spoken and said if we’d beaten Exmouth but still gone down, we’d have to have argued we weren’t good enough over the 30 games.
“It was such a stressful week in the build-up, knowing that even a win in our final game may not have been enough to stay in this division. It’s a real difficult mindset to find yourself in but staying in this division was massive for everyone involved with this club. We’ve got things to build on for next season now."
It was an emotional day for Levett, who skippered Raiders in their play-off against Bracknell to reach National League level nine years ago.
The now Worthing head coach believes staying as one of those top 64 teams in the country was critical.
He added: “It would have been heartbreaking to win in the manner we did and go down. I think to have gone down with 53 points would have been harsh, it would have been the way of the world, but it would have been tough to take.
“I was captain of the team that won the Bracknell play-off here to get us where we are now, so to stay in it means the world. For supporters, sponsors and everyone as a whole is was a really good day.”
Attention now turns to next term, after Raiders confirmed National League 2 South rugby.
Levett revealed the plan is for himself, Ben Coulson (assistant head coach) and Ian Davies (high performance team manager) to remain.
He said: “Myself, Ben and Ian will all be on board for next year. Part of the continuity was to try and build on things.
"The plan for next year - we’ve said all along it’s a three to five-year plan - is to try and build some stability. Build and mindset, build the players for them to play in a way, almost as they did against Exmouth, moving forward.”
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