Raiders move back into pole position

Kieron Dawson
Kieron Dawson

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson believes his side will only have themselves to blame if they fail to get promoted this season.

Raiders moved back into pole position in the National 2 South title race on Saturday, while all but ending Hartpury College’s title hopes with a 27-22 win at Roundstone Lane.

Worthing are now seven points clear of second-placed Henley Hawks, who won 54-33 at Bournemouth on Saturday, but Henley have a game in hand.

Third-placed Redruth, who inflicted a 26-22 defeat on Raiders earlier this month, went down 35-34 at Chinnor, which put the destiny of the title back in Worthing’s hands.

Redruth are now 11 points adrift of Raiders with two games in hand, while fourth-placed Hartpury now trail Worthing by 14 points with one more match to play.

Dawson was delighted with his side’s victory over Hartpury as they held on under intense pressure in the closing stages and said: “We’ve just got to keep taking one game at a time but we want to push on and win the league now and we’re set up for that.

“The only thing stopping us from winning the league will be ourselves.

“We’ve still got some tricky fixtures to come – at Henley, Cornish All Blacks and Clifton, where we have never won before – but we’ve got a good squad to cope with that.”

Dawson also felt his side answered some critics from online rugby forums with the win over Hartpury and said: “The lads follow some of the rugby forums and our guts and determination had been called into question by some people after our defeat at Redruth.

“But we finished this game with one man in the sinbin, so I don’t think that can be called into question now.

“We showed great heart and determination and, a year ago, this is a game we might have lost.

“I, along with all of the management, were very proud of the players and our defence was outstanding at the end.

“It’s a big win and, hopefully, we’ve made it a three-horse race now.”

The only disappointment for Worthing was the fact they only touched down three tries and failed to pick up the four-try bonus-point.

Dawson said: “It’s a little bit disappointing as we all know how important bonus-points will be and we had a few scoring opportunities to get a fourth try.

“We’re delighted with the win, though, against a very strong team.”

Raiders, who have now won all 10 of their home league games this season, host fifth-from-bottom Lydney on Saturday (2pm).

Dawson said: “Last week at Bournemouth, we stuttered a little bit and we had to show a lot of guts today, so we want to go out and put on a performance.”