KIERON DAWSON still believes Worthing Raiders Rugby Club can finish runners-up in National 2 South, despite a fifth defeat of the season on Saturday.
Raiders sit ninth in the table, 12 points behind second-placed Dorking, after a 23-14 loss at Southend on Saturday but head coach Dawson wants his side to believe they can still get up to second place.
He concedes that top spot may be out of reach now but said: “We’re still very optimistic.
“It’s probably unrealistic to finish top now but second place is still massively up for grabs and the players have to believe that we can get into the play-offs.
“Our first focus now has to be trying to get into second place and anything above that would be a bonus.
“We have lost five games now and we hadn’t forecast that but we’ll lick our wounds and will be ready to go again on Saturday.”
Raiders lost just four league games when they were promoted from National 2 South, via the play-offs, two years ago.
The club were relegated straight back down from National 1 last season and Dawson admitted it was the same old frailties that led to the defeat at Southend.
He said: “We were very slow out of the blocks and didn’t play well in the first half.
“It was the same old frailties. Our scrum didn’t go particularly well, whether that was down to the referee’s interpretation or the fact that Southend were better than us on the day.
“We gave away five penalties, one free kick and a penalty try all from the scrum.
“We could have got something out of the game but I wouldn’t say that we deserved to.”
Dawson also felt that Southend’s experience helped them slow the game down and said: “Six of our squad were just 18 or 19, so they are still learning but they are getting better all the time.
“We came up against a team who were a little bit more street-wise and they slowed the game down at every opportunity. They just played it a little bit more cuter than us.”
Raiders entertain Redruth on Saturday (2pm).