Raiders show they have what it takes

Worthing's Alex Nielsen touched down twice late on at Wharfedale
Worthing's Alex Nielsen touched down twice late on at Wharfedale

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson believes his side showed they have what it takes for success in National 1, despite an opening-day defeat.

Raiders kicked off life in the third tier of English rugby with a 38-34 defeat at Yorkshire side Wharfedale on Saturday, but that scoreline tells just half the story.

Dawson took a stack of positives as Raiders secured two bonus points with a dramatic late comeback and said the result actually felt like a win. That feeling came after Raiders trailed 25-5 at half-time, and 31-5 early in the second half, before Raiders raced into action in the closing stages.

Having been out-played in the first hour, Worthing ran riot over a tiring Wharfedale side in the closing stages and tries from Kiba Richards, Jack Maslen, Alex Nielsen (two) and Ollie Richards, combined with Joe Heaver’s first-half score, saw Raiders pick up two precious bonus points.

Dawson said: “We were 38-12 down at one stage and we come away very, very frustrated that we did not win the match.

“There are a massive amount of positives. We targeted a certain number of points from our first four games and two from Saturday is excellent. It’s a pretty steep learning curve and a tough start but we are upbeat and if we play like we did today, we’ll be a handful for any team in this league.

“It’s a long trip back now but to have two points, when at one stage we were staring down the barrel at 31-5, well, it feels like a win and we would have drawn the game if we had got our kicks on the last two tries.”

Dawson cut an animated figure on the touchline at times, and added: “My frustration wasn’t with the effort level, just with the execution. We made so many errors that led to them being in the game.

“The rugby was just insane at times, it was so good to watch and then, as much as we were sublime at times, we gave away silly penalties not making our touches, not making ten yards, not putting the ball in straight at scrums. Just certain things that are very easy to eliminate, so we are very upbeat.”

n Match report and more reaction on page 126.

n On Saturday, Raiders host Blackheath, who suffered a 47-17 defeat at Doncaster Knights at the weekend, in their first-ever National 1 home match. Kick-off is 3pm.