Raiders sucked back into battle for league safety

Gabriel Dobson feels the full force of a Chinnor challenge on Saturday. Picture by Stephen Goodger
Gabriel Dobson feels the full force of a Chinnor challenge on Saturday. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Worthing Raiders Rugby Club were dragged back into the National 2 South survival battle on Saturday.

Play-off chasing Chinnor ran in 11 tries on their way to a crushing 73-14 success at Roundstone Lane, while three of the bottom five teams all scored victories to throw the fight for safety wide open.

Grant Gatford goes over for Raiders against Chinnor. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Grant Gatford goes over for Raiders against Chinnor. Picture by Stephen Goodger

After starting the day fifth from bottom, Worthing dropped a place in the standings following Barnstaple’s win over Cinderford.

Raiders did hold a five-point cushion over third-from-bottom London Irish WIld Geese and Barnes but that has now been cut to just a point and two respectively.

Wild Geese scored a bonus-point win over Henley Hawks, while Barnes collected victory at Canterbury to leave Raiders looking over their shoulders with two games to go.

As it stands, Worthing are fourth from bottom – a point and place above Wild Geese in the final relegation spot – and just a further point clear of Barnes heading into a tense final couple of matches.

Despite the concerning position and a difficult weekend, Raiders head coach Jody Levett knows everything is still in his side’s hands.

He said: “It’s still in our hands and I think that’s all we can ask at this stage.

“Everything has been brought back in so it’s going to be a crucial final two games of the season for us. We will be going into these final two games knowing that wins in both will be good enough. It’s all about us and controlling the controllables, which is our results in these final two games now.”

Raiders have a week break for Easter, before bringing the campaign to a close with a trip to Redingensians Rams, then finishing at home against basement boys Exmouth.

Place-below Wild Geese have to face fifth-placed Redruth and Chinnor, in third, so Levett feels the run-in could work in Raiders’ favour.

He added: “London Irish Wild Geese have got a couple of tricky games to finish but that won’t alter our thinking.

“It looks as though it’s going to go to the wire, as we’ve thought all along.”

Raiders were without skipper Liam Perkins and Kiba Richards (both concussion), Scott Barlow, plus Dino Lamb against Chinnor. With all four expected to be back involved for the crucial trip to Redingesians, head coach Levett believes Raiders have some positives going into the season finale.

He said: “We knew we’d have a few missing against Chinnor but were hoping for a few back in these final two games. It’ll be a positive to have guys like Liam Perkins, Kiba Richards, Scott Barlow and Dino Lamb back for the final couple of games.”

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