ALEX Nielsen touched down four tries as the destiny of the National 2 South title remained in Worthing Raiders Rugby Club’s hands on Saturday.
Raiders, in the end, had a comfortable victory at home to fifth-placed Shelford, who had beaten Worthing 22-21 at home earlier in the season.
Redruth, who had started the day second, lost 26-19 at home to fourth-placed Hartpury College, which leaves both sides 15 points behind Worthing – Redruth with two games in hand and Hartpury with one.
Henley – Raiders’ next opponents on March 23 – moved up to second after a 31-5 victory at Canterbury and are 12 points behind Raiders, with two matches in hand, the first of which is at home to Taunton on Saturday.
Raiders were frustrated for much of the first half by Shelford and trailed 3-0 until they scored two tries late in the first 40 minutes, after Shelford had full-back Peter Baird sent off for two yellow-card offences, the second of which was on 33 minutes.
Worthing made the extra man count within two minutes as they took the lead for the first time, although Raiders head coach Kieron Dawson did not believe the red card was a turning point in the match.
He said: “It was a bit frustrating in the first 30 minutes as we had four or five clear breaks but we got held up and they got into our half once and kicked a penalty, which is one of those things.
“We knew that they would run out of steam and the sending-off didn’t have a big impact, although they will probably cry that it did.
“It was one of their full-backs who was sent off, so they still had 14 defenders on the pitch and it was always going to take time to break them down. It was a game of patience and we ended up scoring nearly 50 points in just over 40 minutes, so it’s a nice win.
“All of the lads played really well and it makes the Henley game next week a big one. But they still have a tough run-in even if we lose that game.”
Full match report and more pictures in this week’s paper.