Raiders avoid banana skin at Lydney ahead of crucial three matches

Alex Nielsen
Alex Nielsen

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson believes his side avoided a potential banana skin on Saturday as they approach a crucial three weeks.

Having not played for two weeks, Dawson admitted he was slightly surprised with what was a relatively simple 32-13 victory at Lydney.

But the hard work starts on Saturday for Raiders as they face three of their fellow top five promotion chasers in consecutive weeks.

Raiders, who sit third, face fourth-placed Henley Hawks at Roundstone Lane on Saturday, host fifth-placed Hartpury the following week, before what could then be a crucial trip to leaders Richmond.

Worthing managed to pull back a point on the leaders at the weekend with a bonus-point win, but Dawson believes it is now crunch time for his side.

He said: “It was a nice game to play, going into three weeks, now, which are crucial to our season.

“If we win Saturday it puts some distance between ourselves, Henley and Hartpury, which will mean we can stop looking over our shoulders.

“Obviously, that affects the way you play, looking behind you, but with wins we can start looking forward.”

A second-minute try from captain Matt Miles set the tone for the first half at Lydney as Matt McLean added the extras to give them an early lead.

Despite Lydney putting over a penalty, McLean touched down just after the 10-minute mark, although failed to add the extras.

Another try from Alex Nielsen on 19 minutes was this time converted by McLean and he added a penalty just before the half-hour mark.

Lydney pulled back another three points from a penalty of their own, but Raiders held a comfortable 22-6 lead at the break.

Nielsen doubled his points tally as he crossed within two minutes of the restart for Raiders’ fourth try, and with McLean again slotting over the extras, the match was all but over.

The home side did put down a converted try of their own after 55 minutes, but the damage was done and Raiders held on for the bonus-point victory.

Dawson added: “It’s a hard place to go and a long trip. With us not having played for a couple of weeks, it had banana skin written all over it.

“So I was very pleased with the reaction of the guys and the result. It was a much better display than I thought it was going to be.

“I think maybe the penny has dropped and the lads have realised what is at stake and what can happen if we perform and what can be lost if we don’t.”