Raiders continue march
EQUAL second is not enough for the Douglas Reef Raiders, who after a gutsy win against Innisfail Vikings last Saturday are primed for a serious tilt at the premiership.
Barron Trinity Bulls are currently in first place and the Raiders are tied with Brothers after their 19-18 win last weekend, despite a string of injuries and playing with no reserves.
The Raiders lost captain Simon Chick, who was taken to hospital to receive stitches below and above his eye, then following the loss of backrowers Matty Crockett and Marty Paulger in the opening minutes, they were forced to play without any reserves.
Innisfail put in a tough game but the Raiders played even tougher to secure their win and have a well-deserved break with a bye this weekend, which will help the players get over their injuries, ready for their final two games before finals.
Coach Adrian Bannerman said the team really believed in themselves and that helped to kickstart an epic season, but they will not get ahead of themselves and will continue to take the season game by game.
“We went through bit of a form slump over the last couple of weeks but got back in the winner’s circle and our biggest losing margin has only been 13 points - to go through the season like that I’m more than happy,” he said.
“It’s been a hard slog but now we don’t have to win every game to make the semis and now it’s down to the boys, the finals is a different game of football to when you’ve played during the season.
“They’re more than ready but we’re only taking it one week at a time, that’s what we said at the start of the year and no use going too far ahead of ourselves.”
Bannerman said all of the team have been playing to their potential but there are a few standouts in the pack.
“Clint Kachel had a big year, winning back to back man of the matches and Matty Crockett and Cameron Smith came in halfway through the season and gave extra dimension in the forward pack,” he said.
“In the backs Grae Gilberts had a pretty much standout season this year and Ethan Hoffman came over from the Sharks and gave us young blood and put new enthusiasm into the backline.”
After a bye weekend the Raiders will have the two final games both away on August 4 against JCU Mariners and August 11 against rivals Brothers.