Dawson looks to hit the ground running

Scott Barlow is an injury doubt for Raiders' opening game.

Scott Barlow is an injury doubt for Raiders' opening game.

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WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson hopes his side will hit the ground running when they begin their National 2 South campaign on Saturday.

Dawson admits that promotion straight back into National 1 is the goal but says it will be far from easy as he feels five or six teams will be in the mix to go up.

Raiders begin with a home game on Saturday against Old Elthamians, who were promoted from National League 3 London & SE last season and are one of the teams Dawson feels will be challenging at the top.

He said: “Our number one objective this season is to get promoted and to secondly win the league. It’s going to be a challenge, though, as there are some strong teams in the league this year.

“Henley are going to be strong, Canterbury and Cambridge have both recruited well, then there’s Chinnor and Old Elthamians as well and Clifton have brought in a few new players.

“We have a fairly tricky September and Old Elthamians will be strong but it might be a good time to play them as they’ve just come up and are new to the league.

“Last season was tough for us but we’ll look to start well, hit the ground running and get off to a positive start.

“There’s probably going to be four or five teams that can realistically win the league and they’ll all beat each other. If we lose a couple of early games, it’s important not to lose sight of what is our goal come the end of the season.”

Worthing warmed up for the new season with a weekend training camp in Bath and Dawson said: “It was a good weekend away.

“We had a lot to work on after the Richmond match, with our defensive organisation. With new players coming in, people were going in the wrong place and making assumptions about other people, so there was plenty to work on. We worked on a lot of things and I’m happy with where we are.”

Matt Miles is out of Raiders’ opening game, although he could be back in October.

Jamie Redmayne is also a doubt for Saturday but Dawson hopes Jack Maslen (dead leg) and Scott Barlow (back) will be fit. Alex Nielsen’s availability this season will depend on his work commitments, although he is set to be available this weekend.