Reef Raiders feel the pinch of an undermanned team


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Veteran Raiders backrower Adrian Bannerman attempts to hand off a Bulls player with Damien Friedrichs and Darcy Cotton up in support. Images: Joanne Cowe.

A depleted and under-strength Port Douglas Reef Raiders slumped to their fourth defeat of the season when they were beaten 37-7 by Barron Trinity Bulls in this FNQ rugby union match on the weekend. The Bulls led 12-7 at the break.

Going into this fixture with a new-look and weakened backline – because of player suspensions and work commitments – and only 19 players to call on, the Port Douglas team was unable to avenge their narrow 22-19 loss to the Bulls in the first round.

The Raiders got off to an excellent start when flyhalf Ben Hockenhull scored the first try of the match, which he also converted. But they were unable to capitalise despite camping on the Bulls line as they enjoyed territorial advantage in the first half. 

The Bulls were issued with two yellow cards during this period, but again the Raiders were unable to capitalise and saw many chances lost.

There was a pleasing aspect in that the Raiders played a more disciplined game compared to last week when they conceded more than 30 penalties against JCU in their 36-7 loss.

“We chatted about this aspect of our game before kick-off and the discipline was much improved,” said Raiders coach Travis Gooch.

Gooch rightly bemoaned the loss of fullback Ethan Hoffman and centre Shihan Aue (suspensions) and Portuguese Test centre Manual Perreira (unavailable) which significantly weakened the backline.

“There is no questioning how much they were missed. We went into the match without eight of our regular players and this hurt. But, and although we did run out of steam as many had to play the full 80 minutes, we still provided a 100 per cent effort,” said Gooch.

The Raiders have a bye this weekend. They are away to the Mudcrabs on 15 June; they are then home for their next two fixtures against Penrhyn and Southside.

“The bye is coming at a good time. This will allow us to freshen up, and there is now only one more overseas player who requires clearance. This will help us a lot,” said Gooch.

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