WORTHING Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson says his side are raring to go for the start of the new season.
Raiders finished fifth in National 2 South last season, after being relegated from National 1 the previous campaign, and Dawson admits Raiders are looking to get back into National 1.
Raiders lost four of their opening six matches last season and Dawson knows the importance of a strong start. He said: “We’re looking forward to the new season and National 1 is our goal.
“Harsh lessons have been learned from last season. We perceive ourselves as one of the front runners in the league but that means teams raise their games against us.
“We got off to a terrible start last season, so we’ve got to learn from that and prepare better but we’re raring to go now.”
On who he expects to be challenging at the top, Dawson said: “I’d expect us to be in the top four as we’ve learned a lot from last season.
“There will probably be three or four teams competing at the top. Bury St Edmunds have recruited a lot of new players, Chinnor got a couple of players we were interested in and have recruited heavily and Old Elthamians have recruited a lot of Blackheath players.
“They all have to gel, though, so that might take a few weeks.”
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Raiders won their final pre-season friendly 31-24 away to East Grinstead on Saturday and, on the strength of his squad for the coming season, Dawson said: “We’re pretty confident but are a couple of players short. We’re a bit light in the second row but everywhere else we’ve got good strength over the pitch.
“We’ve got Jamie Redmayne who can go in the second row but he did such a good job in the back row last year that we want to get him back there.
“I’m happy with all the new faces we’ve brought in and we’ve got good strength in depth.”
Raiders have added Aaron Doignie, Sean O’Hagan, Alex Wilcockson, Owain Davies and Pete Austin to their squad. Josh Ibuanokpe, Archie White and Sam Aspland-Robinson are all dual-registered with Worthing along with Harlequins as well.
Captain Scott Barlow and Finlay Coxon-Smith are unavailable for the opening game at Clifton on Saturday (3pm), while scrum-half Joe Govett’s university commitments could hamper his availability. Dan Peach is set to start at scrum-half on Saturday.
Raiders squad: Ryan Storer, Elliot Luke, Dan Sargent, Charlie Watts, Jamie Redmayne, Jon Whittall, Sam Hewick, Liam Perkins; Dan Peach, Sean O’Hagan, Iain Greenwood, Kieran Leeming, Alex Wilcockson, Matt McLean, Owain Davies. Replacements: Josh Ibuanokpe, Pete Austin, Archie White, Jack Lake, Loewy Simmons.
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