Finals re-match for Raiders’ season starter

RUGBY UNION

Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Juan Dillon during the 2020 grand final. The Raiders will again take on the Wanderers in a grand final re-match this weekend. Image: Joanne Cowe.
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In a re-match of last year’s A-Grade final, the Port Douglas Reef Raiders rugby union team will begin the new season against Wanderers, who they beat 29-24 to take the championship.

This match is one of three being played at the Port Douglas Sports Complex on Saturday, where the Raiders will host the A-Grade teams.

At 3.30pm, Barron play Southside; at 5.00pm, JCU tackle Brothers and the Raiders-Wanderers clash is set for 6.30pm. This is an excellent opportunity to see the top clubs in action.

This is one of six occasions when the Raiders will be at home this season, which is a significant improvement from last season.


The other five home games are: May 15 v Southside; June 5 v JCU; June 12 v Barron; June 26 v Brothers; July 14 v Southside.

Now into his third year as Raiders coach, Travis Gooch, said the club was hopeful of going back-to-back, but are not applying any pressure on themselves.

“The club is hopeful of going back- to-back for the first time in its history and this is something we discussed pre-season. However, with a fairly new looking side, we are not putting any pressure on ourselves. It is all about building the team towards the business end of the season,” said Gooch.

“We have 15 of last year’s premiership winning side returning in 2021; we have lost a handful of players and have picked up a few recruits guys along the way.

“The Raiders’ strengths lie in each player going out and playing for each other. This was shown in last year’s Grand Final when we were able to defend our try line time and time again with each player putting their body on the line,” he said.

He said the secret to last year’s success was keeping things relatively simple and making sure the boys were enjoying themselves on and off the field.

Jack Murday and Esteban Correa will share the captaincy duties this season.

In the pre-season, the Raiders played in the Lightning 15s preseason competition resulting in three wins and two losses.


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