Raiders play the price for rusty showing at Shelford

Alex Nielsen
Alex Nielsen

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson felt his side looked rusty and lacked desire after they lost at lowly Shelford on Saturday.

It was Raiders’ first game back after the two-week winter break and the defeat saw them slip from second down to fourth in the 19-15 defeat, after all of the other top five sides won.

Dawson took some of the blame himself after the team had just one training session during the break and said: “It was a poor day and a poor performance and we were lucky to get a losing bonus point out of it.

“We looked rusty and didn’t show enough desire and it was one of the more disappointing days we’ve had this season.

“It was a game we had targeted to win, so to come away with a defeat is disappointing, especially as the teams around us won as well.

“I don’t think the couple of weeks off helped us. It was a time to try to get the lads’ batteries re-charged but instead we came back looking lethargic and rusty.

“We had one training session over Christmas and it now looks as though that wasn’t enough and we’ve paid the price for it.

“It’s partly my fault, perhaps I wasn’t harsh enough and was a bit too lenient and I’ll take the responsibility for that.

“There’s plenty to work on and maybe I’ll need to do a bit of the hair-dryer treatment in training this week. “We’ve lost three of the last four games now. Before Christmas, I put the two defeats down to fatigue and on Saturday, we were rusty.

“It’s a learning process for all of us, though. We’ve got a young squad and young coaches and we’re all working hard to try to get it right.”

Shelford dominated the early stages on Saturday and went ahead when Grant Anderson breached Worthing’s defence and offloaded to Taniela Bakoso to cross for a converted score in the right corner.

Worthing started to work their way into the game and Alex Nielsen went over after a deft kick from Joe Govett.

Harry Owens kicked over a penalty to give Shelford a 10-5 lead and the half ended with Owens and Matt McLean exchanging penalties to make the score 13-8 at the break.

Owens added two more penalties in the second half to make it 19-8 but Raiders secured a losing bonus point with the penultimate play of the game when Nielsen ran 70 metres to touch down, with McLean adding the extras.

Raiders host Southend on Saturday with a 2pm start at Roundstone Lane.

Oli Luke is out with a knee injury, while James Arthur and Ben Dudley are close to returning to action.