WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club’s impressive second-half display at Shelford on Saturday saw them score 17-unreplied points to secure a 25-17 victory.
Raiders’ jumped up a place to eighth in National 2 South with the win, but instead of the fact they had shut their opponents out in the second half, head coach Will Green saw a defensive spell to close out the first half with 13 men, as the pivotal factor to the victory.
He said: “It was very pleasing, but it was more the performance before half-time that won us the game.
“We were down to 13 men and defended very well to keep them out.
“It was pleasing to go a long way from home and to win, and as we are away from home for the next two games as well, it puts us in a good position.”
The long-trip to Cambridgeshire may have affected the start of the first-half display, as Shelford only led 17-10 at the break, despite having a two-man advantage for the end of the half. But Raiders had more than got the travel out of their systems in the second half as they completely controlled the game and Shelford failed to add a single point to the board.
Poor kicking and missed tackling led to Shelford’s winger Shingai Chiwanga putting down the opening try on five minutes and Tom Dann added the extras.
But just three minutes later, Raiders were level when Alex Nielsen pushed out a well-timed pass to Joe Govett, who ran to score and Matt McLean put over the conversion.
McLean put Raiders in front on 12 minutes with a sweetly-struck penalty, but Shelford were looking strong advancing up field and Dann converted a penalty on 25 minutes to again level the scores.
Worthing were then reduced to 13 men as last-man Nielsen knocked the ball down when trying to intercept for a yellow card, while three minutes later Gareth Emmett received the same fate after a fracas.
Raiders put in an excellent defensive display for the last six minutes of the half, but were eventually broken in the five minutes of added time when Charlie Baker crashed over and Dann added the extras to give Shelford a 17-10 half-time lead.
After the break Raiders, reinforced by Charlie McGowan, allowed Shelford little possession or territory and dominated the half completely.
Richard Briggs pulled back a try seven minues after the break, although McLean was unable to convert to level the score.
But the kicker made up for his miss soon afterwards when he sent over a long-range penalty to put them ahead.
Sam Hewick was rewarded for an impressive display on 72 minutes, when he crossed the line after a large spell of pressure, and McLean put in a fine kick from the touchline, to put the Raiders comfortably ahead, although they were not able to find a four-try bonus point in the closing stages.
Raiders travel to fifth-placed Southend on Saturday, who suffered a narrow 17-15 defeat at Taunton on Saturday.
Worthing last met Southend at Roundstone Lane in October and went down 36-28. Green said: “It was a close game at home and we will look to avenge that on Saturday.”
WORTHING: Govett, Briggs, Sullivan, McLean, Nielsen, Dudley, Costigan, Arthur, Redmayne, Miles, Pitchford, Coxon-Smith, Webster, Pointing, Emmett. Subs: Stevens, McGowan, Marsh, Dunckley, Hewick.