Reef Raiders on brink of grand final spot

RUGBY UNION

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Dylan Leahy with the ball for teh Reef Raiders. Image: Joanne Cowe.
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The Port Douglas Reef Raiders are on the brink of playing in their first grand final since the premiership winning side of 2014 thanks to an impressive 41-17 victory over Brothers at the weekend.

Their immediate hurdle now is the semi-final clash against the Barron Bulls while the other semi-final is between Wanderers and JCU.

The Raiders will again be looking for success against Barron who they have beaten twice this season: 37-25 and 24-17.

“We are not taking this lightly and there is no greater incentive than knowing a win qualifies for a place in the finals,” said Raiders coach Travis Gooch.

“Barron has been a dominant force in FNQ rugby over the past few years with premierships in 2016, 2017, 2018 and beaten finalists in last year's Grand Final.

"The past results count for nothing this weekend: it's simple; win and we will be playing in the grand final; lose and our season will be over.

"Barron are a strong side, but we have shown throughout this season that we can win tight games and I'm expecting a tight encounter this weekend,” said Gooch.

The Raiders were put under early pressure with the Brothers big pack making early inroads. However, the Raiders’ goal line defence held firm and were able to capitalise at the other end of the field to take a 12-0 lead into halftime.

"It was good hit out for the boys, Brothers threw a fair bit at us in the first half but we stayed composed and executed when given the chance."

The Raiders got out of the blocks early in the second half and didn't look back; piling on a further five tries. Brothers, however, did not roll over and managed to score three tries.

"The game opened up in the second half and we were able to attack more fluently and score a few long-range tries. We conceded a few tries at the end but overall it was a solid performance,” said Gooch.

Raiders’ points came from tries by Toa Rea 2, Juan Dillon, Kornylius Tuimauga, William Brown, Tomas Venter, Trazane Cobb. Tomas Venter 2, Trazane Cobb 1 added conversions.



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