WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club full-back Matt McLean believes his side can still challenge at the top this season – so long as they become more clinical.
McLean kicked four penalties as Raiders won 12-10 at home to Redruth on Saturday to move up to eighth in the National 2 South table.
Worthing are still 13 points behind second-placed Dorking, with leaders Henley a further six points ahead but McLean said: “Despite the fact we’ve lost more games than we’d have liked to at this stage, you can see how competitive we can be, despite having not played well.
“If we can put right all the wrongs that are creeping into our game and the mistakes, there’s no reason why we can’t start taking the league by storm.
“I remember a couple of years back when Old Albanian got promoted as winners of the league. They were eighth or ninth place after six or seven games and it was from November onwards that they came into their own.
“We’d have to have a dramatic turnaround to follow that but there’s nothing to say it can’t be done. Hopefully, the work on the scrum will help build the momentum to help the backs get more of the ball and improve on the clinicality.
“We’re a bit inconsistent with results, we won against Canterbury and followed it up with a win away to Chinnor. We got the momentum and then all of a sudden we trip up and find a banana skin in the fixture list and lose and it kills the momentum.”
McLean admitted after Saturday’s game that he could not remember the last time Worthing won a game, having not scored a try, and said: “We managed to scrape over the line today as the last couple of games we’ve lost by a few points. It’s nice to be on the right side of the result but it’s not getting easier.
“Fortunately, I had my kicking boots on. I kicked quite well in the warm-up, which is something of a kicker’s nightmare as you don’t want to use up all your good kicks but, fortunately, I kicked well in the warm-up and in the game and this week it proved quite pivotal.
“I’ve been at the club for six years now and I don’t remember a time where we’ve won a game and not scored a try.”
On the pressure of the kicks in a close game, McLean said: “As far as pressure goes, when you’re kicking, the pressure is always there but you get used to it after so many years.
“The pressure doesn’t subside but you just learn to deal with it psychologically.”
Raiders could have had a more comfortable afternoon but for handling errors and McLean said: “We created a few chances today where we possibly could have scored but wasted them but we’ll hopefully put that right.
“Handling errors are frustrating because it’s not pressure that’s come from the opposition, it’s basic internal mistakes. It’s different if someone is hunting you down and putting the pressure on, it’s something that we’ve got to put right quite quick because, at this level, we can’t afford to miss those oppportunities.
“As we found last year, other sides that played against us were clinical. At the moment, we’ve still not learned from that – when we create a chance, we’ve got to be equally as clinical, which is why we’re finding it quite tough at the minute.”
Match report from Saturday’s win on page 100.