'Progressing' Raiders can end year on a high
Ian Davies believes Worthing Raiders have the ideal opportunity to give their supporters some Christmas cheer.
Raiders’ final two matches of 2017 come at Roundstone Lane and high performance team manager Davies knows there would be no better way to end the year than with back-to-back victories.
A trip to Henley Hawks on Saturday proved unsuccessful as Worthing went down 43-28 - a first defeat in four National 2 South matches.
Raiders remained ninth in the table after the loss at rivals Henley, leaving them just five points and a place off the top-half.
With Barnstaple and Wimbledon both visiting Roundstone Lane before the year is out, Davies sees no reason why Raiders can’t be one of the top eight teams at the turn of the year.
He said: “Win or lose we have made progress this year. These two last matches of 2017 give us an opportunity to cement a top-half position but more importantly we can hopefully give the supporters some Christmas cheer.
“To do that we will need to work hard and put in two solid performances against two heavy packs of forwards.”
A late try from John Dawe in the defeat at Henley did ensure Raiders salvaged a losing bonus-point after going over four times.
That continued a run of five consecutive matches in which they have managed to score four tries or may and they’ve managed it in nine of their 14 matches across the campaign.
It’s a run that is continuing to impress Davies.
He said: “Look at the make-up of the squads for matches this season and combinations on the field when the tries are being scored, all very different.
“I don’t think you can overlook the work JC (James Arthur) has done this season in getting the ‘A’ team firing. This National 2 South is unforgiving, so the depth of the squad will be tested.
“A number of ‘A’ team players have stepped in, often at short notice, and have performed well.
“The challenge for these players is now to keep pushing and make the starting shirts for the Raiders a competitive selection process. If this can happen then performances will push towards that consistent level we are aspiring to achieve.”
Raiders were 24-0 down early doors in the loss against Henley.
Missing several players through injury, Davies was pleased with the recovery.
He said: “To be honest the boys stuck at the task really well. If you look at the composition of the starting XV you will see we were always going to be up against it.
“The first half-hour was indicative of a team that had not trained together in those combinations. But I think it is testament to how far we have come as a squad that we came away with the bonus-point."