WORTHING RAIDERS Rugby Club sealed their seventh win in eight National 2 South matches with victory over Southend at Roundstone Lane on Saturday.
It was Raiders’ first game since an emphatic 59-5 success over Lydney two weeks ago, after their scheduled match at Bishop’s Stortford last week was postponed owing to snow.
Worthing picked up where they left off against Lydney to make it two home successes in a row, although they did fall behind early on.
Southend went ahead inside a minute when Iain Meads’ pass found Mark Billings, who went over to put his side 5-0 in front.
Raiders struggled to find any momentum in the opening exchanges and a number of stoppages meant they grew more frustrated.
However, Worthing did go ahead for the first time on 19 minutes when Alex Nielsen broke and offloaded to Ben Dudley, who touched down. Matt McLean made no mistake with the conversion to put the home side 7-5 ahead.
Raiders extended their advantage just six minutes later with a wonderfully worked try. Kieran Leeming collected the ball and found Dudley, who set Iain Greenwood free and he found McLean, who got his first try of the contest.
The leading points scorer in National 2 South then added the extras.
Southend reduced the deficit to just six points three minutes before the interval as Bradley Burr converted a penalty.
Raiders’ response was almost immediate, though, and on 38 minutes they got their third try. Matt Miles received the ball in midfield, and he found Sam Hewick, who released Calum Waters to go over.
McLean made it three conversions from three to give the home side a 21-8 advantage.
Southend were then reduced to 14 men before the break as Billy Driver was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on.
Despite being a man down, it was the visitors who registered the first points in the second period as Burr struck with another penalty.
Chris Chesney was then shown a yellow card for a foul on Jamie Redmayne and Southend were down to 13.
Raiders failed to take advantage of that, though, as the score remained 21-11 for the next ten minutes.
The home side bagged the four-try bonus point 14 minutes from time when McLean went over for the second time for his 11th try of the season.
Nielsen then added a fifth try late on as his fine run saw him get past the Southend backline and register his 15th try of the campaign.
Raiders head coach Kieron Dawson was pleased with his side’s response after going behind so early and said: “We had a feeling in the changing room before the match that we could fall behind early.
“We knew that if we were not quite prepared mentally going out there, it may happen and that was the case.
“However, in a strange way, I think that helped us and it really gave us that kick up the backside.
“I felt we dominated the game from there on in and deserved the victory.
“There were 50 points up for grabs before the game today and we managed to pick up the maximum five points with this win.”
The win moved Raiders up a place to fourth in the table. They travel to sixth-from-bottom Redruth on Saturday.
RAIDERS: Storer, Miles, Sargent, Barlow, McGowan, Redmayne, Hewick, Smith; Waters, Leeming, Nielsen, Dudley, Loosmore, Greenwood, McLean. Subs: Walker, Whittall, Yates, Burns, Luke.