Ruthless Raiders stay in the chase

Raiders' Matt McLean in action against Taunton
Raiders' Matt McLean in action against Taunton

WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson was impressed with his side’s ruthlessness as they kept their National 2 South promotion chase alive by thrashing Taunton on Saturday.

Raiders touched down 11 tries as they stormed to a rampant victory over their depleted visitors, who travelled with just two replacements.

The victory keeps Raiders third, but they moved to within five points of second-placed Richmond, who drew 16-16 at Henley Hawks.

Old Albanians, who Raiders travel to in a must-win encounter on Saturday, had a comfortable 50-17 win at Shelford and are four points clear at the top of the table and need just a point from their last two games to ensure Raiders cannot catch them, due to their superior points difference.

A dominant Raiders led 19-0 at half-time, thanks to tries from Joe Govett (two) and Matt McLean, the latter also slotting over two conversions. In the second half, James Arthur, Finlay Coxon-Smith, Jack Maslen (two), McLean, Kiba Richards and Michael Stubbs (two) all got on the scoresheet, while McLean put over seven conversions.

Dawson said: “I felt sorry for Taunton as they were an under-powered squad, but it was good that we showed that we are ruthless – I was impressed with that.

“It’s still out of our hands (promotion), but we’ve given ourselves a fighting chance still, going into the next two games.

“Today confirms we have come at least third, so that’s nice, so we can look to the last two games and onto next year.

“There was a danger that, after the Richmond defeat, our season could fade out, but we’ve kept going. We just need to play our own game and if we win them, we’ve got a chance. It’s all about building momentum now for next year whether we are in this league or not.”

Govett crossed to open the scoring within just five minutes on Saturday after Rob Smith’s break on the wing saw him pick out Govett on his inside and he easily strode home, with McLean starting the day well with a conversion.

Taunton replied with steady possession and a Richard Briggs interception and then Ben Dudley holding up Jason Luff kept the visitors out.

Govett struck again on 20 minutes after Coxon-Smith’s initial drive was held up, but Govett soon crashed over. McLean’s kick, however, was just wide of the far post due to David Webber’s charge down.

A Maslen break on the wing drew out the defence just before half-time and he switched the ball back in to McLean, who raced through and then sent over a fine long conversion for a 19-0 lead.

Raiders really showed that ruthless streak after the break and Arthur crossed within a minute of the restart after Jamie Redmayne’s 20-yard run, and McLean added two more points.

Three minutes later, Coxon-Smith raced into the corner after Govett’s interception, although McLean’s kick was just short.

Taunton were reduced to 14 men soon afterwards as Chris Phillips was sinbinned, and Maslen soon breezed through the defence making 30 yards to cross the line and McLean took the score to 38-0 on 55 minutes.

McLean set up Maslen on the wing for his second four minutes later, again converted, before Taunton bundled over a consolation try.

That was all it was to be as McLean touched down on 66 minutes, Richards raced onto a kick to do the same three minutes later, before Stubbs finished a passing move on 73 minutes.

All were converted, taking the score to 66-5. And Raiders added an 11th try when Stubbs again crossed after a lovely passing move between Darren Clayton and McLean. Worthing’s kicker obliged with the extras to cap an emphatic victory.

WORTHING: McLean, Maslen, Richards, Coxon-Smith, Briggs, Dudley, Govett, Cleveland, Pointing, Burns, Stubbs, Arthur, Redmayne, Hewick, Smith. Subs: Lannaway (Burns 40), Fleming, Heaver (Arthur, Hewick 51), Costigan (Govett 73), Clayton (Smith 60).