WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club dropped into the bottom three of National 2 South after a 31-24 home defeat against high-flying Old Albanian on Saturday.
Raiders, who have lost eight of their opening 12 matches, did pick up a losing bonus point – their first one of the season.
Saturday’s clash always looked to be a tough one for Kieron Dawson’s men as Old Albanian had suffered just one league defeat in 11 matches and they proved to be just a little too strong for a resilient Raiders side.
The visitors made a flying start and registered the first points on five minutes. A fine move saw Jordi Pasqualin and James Shanahan involved, before Christopher May beat three players and found Michael Allan who went over.
May kicked the conversion wide, before Raiders sprang into life and were dominant for the next 15 minutes.
All of their forward play was finally rewarded with a try on 18 minutes. Sean O’Hagan intercepted a Shanahan pass 20 metres out and sprinted through to touch down.
Matt McLean, back on kicking duties, made no mistake with the conversion to give Raiders a 7-5 lead.
They were ahead for just two minutes, though, as Pasqualin waltzed past the Worthing defence before sending Oliver Marchon clear and he went over under the posts.
May added the extras and that try seemed to be somewhat of a catalyst for Old Albanian and they went further ahead 13 minutes before the break.
A quick passing move saw Nicholas Stevens and May both involved, before Allan latched on to the final pass to claim his second try of the match.
May converted to move the visitors 19-7 ahead.
Raiders hit back and McLean’s penalty on 35 minutes reduced the deficit to nine points at the interval.
It took just eight minutes of play in the second period for Albanian to ensure they would come away with a four-try bonus point.
They bagged a fourth try of the afternoon when Nicholas Foster forced his way over, while May added the extras to make it 24-10.
Any hopes of a Worthing victory were all but ended with 12 minutes left to play. Another excellent run from Pasqualin saw him beat two players before sending Foster clear for his second try of the day. May added the extras to make it 31-10 with time running out.
But credit to Raiders, they refused to go down without a fight and a brilliant solo effort from Liam Perkins ensured his side bagged a second try.
McLean was once again on target with the conversion to leave Raiders trailing by 14 points with ten minutes left.
Worthing knew one more converted try would give them a losing bonus point and with a minute left they got just that.
Scott Barlow forced his way over and McLean fired over a high-pressure conversion.
Albanian then found themselves down to 14 men as May received his marching orders for a high tackle on Barlow.
But it came just a little too late for Raiders to make the most of their man advantage as the final whistle went less than a minute later.
Raiders make the trip to fourth-from-bottom Canterbury, who they trail by two points, on Saturday.
RAIDERS: Storer, Luke, Sargent, Barlow, Arthur, Richardson, Hewick, Perkins; Leeming, O’Hagan, McLean, Fogerty, Greenwood, Aspland-Robinson, Davies. Subs: Watson-Brooks, Smith, Dawson, Margetson, Montgomery.
Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.
Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.
1 Make this website your homepage
2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex
3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex
4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.
And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!