WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club remain firmly in control of the National 2 South title race after a 19-7 win over Cornish All Blacks today (Saturday, April 20).
Tries from Kieran Leeming, Charlie McGowan and Will Stutchbury along with two Joe Govett conversions secured the win at Launceston, while second-place challengers Henley Hawks won 62-17 at home to Dings Crusaders.
A Dings win would have seen Raiders crowned champions today, but it now looks like the title will come down to head-to-head shoot out between Worthing and Henley when they face each other in their final league game on May 4.
With Raiders having a game in hand, they could clinch the title while not in action next Saturday as Henley must win at Shelford to sustain their title hopes ahead of hosting Worthing the following weekend.
Raiders led 12-7 at half-time at Launceston after a good defensive display had kept the hosts out for the majority of the half, before All Blacks’ Richard Friend touched down a converted try on the stroke of half-time.
After the break, a brilliant run from Ludi Hopkinson saw him carve into the oppositions’ 22 and offload to Sam Hewick, who found Stutchbury on the march to cross under the posts on 47 minutes.
Govett converted to give Worthing a 12-point lead before tempers started to fray on the pitch.
Hewick was yellow carded on 56 minutes and three minutes later, Duke Lloyd was also sent to the bin to take it to 14-a-side.
After a lengthy injury to Neilson Webber, there were a number of more bust-ups on the pitch which resulted in Fred Bulut yellow carded, while Charlie McGowan saw red in injury-time, a decision Raiders head coach Kieron Dawson said they will be appealing.
Dawson was unhappy with a number of decisions from the officials and insisted McGowan did nothing wrong.
He said: “They did not have much to play for but just seemed to want to destruct our team. We stuck at it and showed good discipline as we know what is at stake in two weeks time.
“You do not mind a team trying to make things difficult by playing, not by trying to punch and kick your players. But we got through it and we are looking strong going into the end of season decider.
“We may have lost a couple of players, though. Matt Miles looks like he has broken his arm, and, obviously with regards to appealing Charlie’s red card.”
WORTHING: Leeming, K.Richards, O.Richards, Peters, Neilsen, Hopkinson, Govett, Cleveland, Miles, Burns, Stutchbury, McGowan, Redmayne, Hewick, R.Smith. Subs: Pointing (Miles 14), Heaver, J.Smith (Redmayne 70), Maslen, Dudley (Hopkinson 56).
Full report and more reaction in Thursday’s Worthing Herald.