Dragons bow out gracefully in semi-final



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The Dragons have fallen just short of the Grand Final. Image: Katy Olsen.
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The Douglas United Dragons have bowed out with grace after losing 4-3 in extra time to Marlin Coast Rangers in a knockout semi-final on Friday night in Port Douglas. Rangers now advance through to the Grand Final to face Mareeba.

The Dragons will play the Townsville 2nd Division winners in Townsville on 7 November for the Crad Evans trophy, which they have won the last two years, both times winning via penalties.

- Dragons hold on to snatch minor premiers

After a good first half the Dragons led 1-0 at half time. In the 35minute Navarro received the ball on the edge of the Rangers box and was bowled over by the Rangers centre back which resulted in a penalty. Gualtieri confidently stepped up and slotted it in.

But the final half of ordinary time was the Dragons’ undoing allowing three Rangers goals, which forced the game into extra time.

In the 60th minute Xavi Aranda, who was having a strong game slotted the second Dragons goal with a neat finish. Rangers were getting frustrated; lunging into tackles. Two Dragons players were on the end of some dangerous tackles and carried off and the referee had to keep the tension levels under control.

In the 70minute the Rangers keeper came out to clear a through ball, Jamie Quinn was determined to get to it first, using his speed he got there and slid in to kick it past the advancing keeper, Dragons 3-0 with 20 minutes to go.

It was in extra time that brought things to a dramatic ending for the large crowd that turned out and were in high spirits. Sadly, they were disappointed.

Still 3-3 after the first 15 minutes of extra time, the second half of extra time saw a few more cracks in both defences, fitter players pushing forward taking advantage of the tired legs.

Gualtieri came close with a volley from the left which was well saved and Aranda through on goal, but his shot was off the leg of the Rangers goalie.

With five minutes to go in the game and the prospect of a penalty shoot-out deciding the outcome.

But Rangers were starting to find room in the Dragons goal box, their skilful strikers making the most of the tired Dragons defenders.

Dragons pushed hard in the last two minutes, but couldn't get the equaliser. A gallant effort from the Dragons, the 15-minute lapse late in the 2nd half cost them the game.

Another push down the right flank from Rangers, the ball crossed back into the striker in the Dragons box, he moved across the face of goal turned on the penalty spot and his accurate shot just inside the post enabled Rangers to win 4-3.

This was the last home game for the Dragons this season.  

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