Rampant Raiders now face toughest challenge

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club face their toughest challenge yet on Saturday in which a 100 per cent league record will end.

Having sealed their seventh consecutive victory in National 2 South on Saturday, with a convincing 36-13 victory at home over Dings Crusaders, Raiders travel to Henley Hawks, who also have seven wins from seven, this weekend.

It could prove to be Raiders’ biggest challenge of the season so far and one that could easily show the direction for the rest of it.

Raiders go into the match second, just a point behind leaders Richmond, while Hawks are two points back in third, and head coach Kieron Dawson is hoping for an improved performance after being left unhappy at the weekend.

He said: “It was an awful performance. We gave some of the young guys an opportunity and rested a few senior players, but I don’t really know what happened.

“Maybe we had one eye already on this weekend, but it took a hairdryer at half-time, and we came out much better in the second, scored two quick tries and put the game to bed.

“The lads were disappointed in the dressing room as well, which was good for me as they know they underperformed.”

On the clash with Henley, Dawson added: “They’re a good and very strong side, which have a lot of support from Premiership sides, so have a big pool of players to pick from.

“But the 15 or 20 we put out will be more than capable, and at the end of the day it comes down to who wants it more. Maybe a poor performance last weekend was the perfect dress rehersal for it.”

Alex Nielsen drove forwards on Saturday before offloading to Kiba Richards, who ran in to touch down after three minutes and Matt McLean added the extras for an early lead.

But it wasn’t to last as Waylon Gasson crossed for the vistors and Harvey Skelton’s conversion tied the scores within three minutes.

Sam Hewick restored the lead on 16 minutes, as McLean put over the conversion, and then added a penalty to give Raiders a 17-10 lead, although Skelton put a penalty over before the break.

Two converted tries within 10 minutes of the restart ended any Dings’ hopes. First Hewick crossed for his second of the match on 45 minutes, before Will Stutchbury touched down and McLean did his job with both, to extend the score to 31-10.

Skelton put over another penalty on 51 minutes, before Ben Dudley crossed on 68 minutes to finalise the scoring.

WORTHING: McLean, Wilcockson, Richards, Dunckley, Nielsen, Dudley, Metters, Gue, Miles, Smith, Stutchbury, McGowan, Coxon-Smith, Hewick, Stubbs. Subs: Cleveland, Redmayne, Bruce, Costigan, Briggs.