Raiders warned upcoming fixtures crucial to close gap

Worthing Rugby Club have been told the next few weeks are crucial to make up ground on the league’s front runners.

After a shaky start – blamed on a number of changes just before kick-off – away to Southend on Saturday, Worthing hit back from 17-0 down after 12 minutes to win 43-29 and record their ninth win of the season.

It was all change from last week with Matt McLean and Kiba Richards both out injured, while Harry Sloan rolled an ankle in the warm-up, so Alex Nielsen moved from the wing to outside centre, with Jordan Burns switching from the bench .

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But after a slow first 20 minutes, they soon found their feet and ran out comfortable winners.

Third-placed Raiders, who host Clifton on Saturday, now have a chance to make up ground on both Henley and Hartpury and possibly push clear of chasers Redruth and Shelford in the coming weeks as the other sides in the top five face off against each other.

Raiders chairman David Hinchliffe said: “Everyone was pretty disappointed after the game. For the first 20 to 25 minutes, we didn’t play at all well and the players were pretty down about that.

“But with all the changes in the back from last week, it was a good win on the road and it moves us up a place, so we can’t complain.

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“After the Henley game, we said we had an important three weeks as those around us start playing each other and they can’t all take the points. “Henley are at Redruth this weekend and Shelford are at Hartpury, so people will lose points all around us.

“December 1 is a free week, but then on December 8, Hartpury and Henley play each other, so it’s really vital we don’t slip up and take points in the games we play in.”

First-half tries from Matt Farnes, Scott Barlow, Sam Hewick, three Joe Govett conversions and a penalty gave them a 24-22 lead at half-time.

Hewick put down a second, while Jack Maslen and Jordan Burns also crossed in the second half as Govett slotted another two conversions.

Full match report in this week’s paper.