Raiders slug­gish but too good for Slade Point

Whitsunday Times - - SPORT -

RUGBY UNION

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.

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