Second half meltdown sees Reef Raiders pay the price
A Southside Crusaders try in the first minute of injury time proved to be the difference between victory and defeat for the Reef Raiders who were beaten 22-19 after holding a commanding 19-5 lead at half-time in this FNQ rugby union match at the sporting complex on Saturday.
But it could have been different and the Raiders had every chance to beat the more fancied Crusaders. In fact, they must still be questioning their inability to add to their first half points and why they did not capitalise on opportunities to apply scoreboard pressure.
Fullback Peter Gilmour missed a penalty kick in front of the posts just before half-time and in the second half, they opted for scrums – against a heavier and more cohesive pack – when the Crusaders were penalised in their 22m area, or a touch finder, rather than take the penalty kick and further their lead.
It took the Raiders 17 minutes to break through the Crusaders defence when prop Clint Kachel scored. Gilmour missed the conversion. The Crusaders hit back two minutes later with an unconverted try to level matters at 5-5.
In the final 25 minutes of this half, the Raiders dominated possession and territory and when eighthman Franceso Panessi scored and Gilmour converted (12-5), Raiders fans were starting to believe they could win this one.
The Raiders extended their lead in the 37th minute when they were awarded a penalty try following a cynical foul to further their lead to 19-5. At this stage, two Crusaders players had been yellow-carded, but the Raiders failed to capitalise against a 13-man team for the 10 minutes the players were in the sin bin.
The Crusaders capitalised on an out-of-sorts Raiders in the final stanza. They scored a breakaway try in the 28th minute, and with the conversion, narrowed the gap to 19-12; and then scored an unconverted try eight minutes later reducing the margin to 19-17.
With time running out and six minutes of injury time, the Raiders defence faltered when it mattered most and the Crusaders scored the all-important match-winning try. The conversion failed, but the visitors had done enough to collect crucial league table points.
The Raiders are away to Cairns Brothers this weekend – they beat them 17-12 in the first round – and are then home the following week to JCU, who beat the Raiders 36-7 in the opening round.
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