Jody Levett assessed Worthing Raiders’ seventh National 2 South defeat in eight matches and said: “The sending off changed the game.”
Raiders winger David McIlwaine was shown a red card for a high-tackle early in the second half as they went down 50-26 at Canterbury on Saturday.
Worthing were well placed, leading 12-10 at the break and only trailing 22-12 after the dismissal of McIlwaine.
Canterbury powered away in the following 15 minutes or so, opening up a 50-19 advantage, before Raiders got a fourth try through Jamie Redmayne to earn a bonus-point for their efforts.
Worthing head coach Levett felt McIlwaine’s dismissal turned the match and said: “To get the bonus-point try playing with 14 men for a large part of the second half showed what great character we have once again. Our first half performance was excellent in parts and a great improvement on last week.
“The sending off proved a huge turning point. With it coming so early in the second half, it meant playing for over 35 minutes with 14 men.
“Having been leading at half time, it completely changed the momentum of the match.
“We were a little shell-shocked for a period of time and it took us a while to regain our composure.”
Levett was far from impressed with the overall performance from his team – despite a home victory ending a run of six successive defeats at home against Tonbridge Juddians last time out.
But he was impressed with how quick his side flew out of the traps at Canterbury. He added: “We were certainly the dominant side in the first half and were worth our lead playing up the slope, which is always tricky at Canterbury.
“However, the sending off changed our focus and fired them up and they were quick to punish our errors with only 14 men.”
Raiders, currently 11th in the National 2 South table, have a favourable run of fixtures between now and Christmas.
They welcome third-from-bottom Broadstreet to Roundstone Lane on Saturday, before a week’s break.
Raiders then meet Clifton, Old Redcliffians, Henley Hawks, Barnstaple, and Wimbledon – all teams currently in the bottom nine – before the year is out.
It is a run of fixtures that head coach Levett feels points need to be returned from.
He said: “As I’ve said before, all games are equally important.
“We have Broadstreet this weekend, then the players get a well-earned week off. Broadstreet will be looking to bounce back from a heavy defeat.
“The run up to Christmas sees us play teams below us, we will be looking to put in solid performances in these matches to come.”