Raiders sluggish but too good for Slade Point
WHAT should have been a simple, undefeated minor premiership for the Whitsunday Raiders turned into a scrappy finals dress rehearsal.
Whitsunday took down Slade Point 27-0 on Saturday in Mackay in a sluggish performance, and the team recognises that they must improve ahead of this weekend’s major semi-final against the City Redskins – where the winner will be awarded a grand final berth. If not for a strong start, when the Raiders led 13-0 by throwing the ball wide to winger Josh Brock for a pair of tries in the 6th and 8th minutes, the reigning premiers may have found themselves digging a lot deeper than they had to. The start was clinical and the feeling was that Whitsunday would score a bagful of tries in open space by strong individual efforts, but this train of thought was quickly derailed through miserable play and a struggle for consistency through continuous phases. No less than five lineouts on their own throw were lost leading into halftime, while four scrum feeds also had the Raiders back-peddling. Whitsunday was its own worst enemy.
After stern words from coach Kon Flaherty, Martin Roveda took it upon himself to right the ship after halftime, breaking several tackles before gliding over for another try.
The wheels appeared to be moving in the right direction however they were soon stopped, as an incident saw an eye-popping four red cards dished out – leaving Whitsunday with just 13 players on the field for the remaining 20 minutes.
Another yellow for Slade followed, making for a complete mess of a match.
With five minutes remaining Jack Nowell crossed to take the lead to 27-points, securing an undefeated minor premiership – the third in club his- tory. While the game itself was less than impressive, Whitsunday managed to complete the home-andaway season by keeping their opponents scoreless for the seventh time in 12 matches – a testament to consistently outstanding defence.
This Saturday the Raiders will play in Mackay from 3.30pm.
In other news, the junior Raiders will host another sign-on tomorrow night at the Whitsunday Sportspark. More than 100 players joined last week, and the club encourages others interested to see what all the fuss is about.
For more information call Sharron Pratt on 0403 318 866.
IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: Shannon Wolland, pictured here against Bowen a fortnight ago, and the Raiders struggled to find top gear against Slade Point on Saturday in Mackay.