WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson was full of praise for full-back Matt McLean after his hat-trick at Hertford on Saturday kept up Raiders’ pursuit of a top-two finish with a 25-14 win.
McLean moved on to 12 tries for the season, to add to the 210 points he has kicked, and Dawson said: “Matt’s been very important for us – you can’t do anything without someone who can kick points and we’ve been very happy with his contribution.
“He’s played a few positions for us and done very well in all of them, so it’s been a good season for him.”
Dawson is now hoping one of the teams still to play leaders Old Albanians or second-placed Richmond can do Raiders a favour in the remaining three games. Raiders trail Richmond by eight points, with Old Albanians a point further ahead, and Dawson said: “We need some other teams to do us a favour but the season’s not all over yet.
“Both of them have got some tough fixtures coming up and we’ve still got to go to Old Albanians, who are also at Hartpury College in the last game of the season, so we’re still in there chasing.
“All we can try to do is make sure we take it to the last game of the season and, if it doesn’t happen this year, we’ve got to carry the momentum into next year.
“The higher up the league we can finish, the better standard of players we’ll be able to attract for next season.”
Raiders kicked the game off with the wind and Hertford soon killed a ruck under the posts, which allowed McLean to strike the penalty over to give Worthing a 3-0 lead. A series of penalties then took Hertford up the pitch and Olly Forrest made it 3-3 on nine minutes.
Worthing opted to use scrums instead of kicks and the next score came when Rob Smith freed Jack Maslen to score in the corner on 13 minutes.
McLean ran 40 yards to extend the lead with a converted try on 28 minutes and he then went over after a scrum, when Smith linked with Nielsen down the right, to give Raiders a 20-3 lead at half-time.
Hertford bossed the opening exchanges of the second half as they drove forward with the wind behind them.
Forrest kicked a drop goal and a penalty to make the score 20-9 but Worthing soon started to take control again.
Straight running by the forwards, with Jamie Redmayne and Matt Miles coming to the fore, pinned Hertford in their own half and Raiders secured the four-try bonus-point on 68 minutes.
Ben Dudley forced the play into the right-hand corner and McLean went over to make it 25-9.
Hertford had the final say when Rob Scillaci touched down but it was too late to deny Worthing the victory.
Dawson said: “It was a fairly scrappy affair, so we were happy to come away with the five points.
“Everybody played well and it was good to see some of the youngsters getting their chance.”
Raiders have a free week this weekend, before they return to action at home to Taunton on April 14.
RAIDERS: Wilcockson, Maslen, Richards, McLean, Nielsen, Dudley, Costigan, Cleveland, Pointing, Arthur, Stubbs, Hewick, Redmayne, Smith. Subs (all used): Miles, Leeming, Heaver, Holgate, Lanaway.