Camelboks fire to ice Raiders from 2017 competition
THE Whitsunday Raiders have bowed out of the 2017 Mackay and districts rugby union finals after succumbing to a hungry Kuttabul 35-13.
Beginning the sudden death match without their captain Shannon Wolland, who underwent surgery to his cheek bone after a loss to Cities last week, the Raiders even on home soil had their work cut out for them.
Kuttabul opened their account with two quick tries and had the home side on the back foot from the get go.
The Camelboks scored another two converted tries to the Raiders one, before the break and looked to have a convincing edge over the home side.
Attempts at long range penalty goals with a gusting cross wind and missed tackles out wide contributed to the Raiders deficit at the end of the first 40 minutes.
At half time with the Raiders trailing 13 points coach Kon Flaherty hammered home the need for the boys to be aggressive in defence.
The Camelboks were first to score in the second half and as a come back looked less likely, Wolland began running the sideline shouting support at his teammates.
Mistakes crept into the Raiders back-line and Kuttabul rode a wave of confidence to the full time siren.
Flaherty said after the game that Kuttabul had timed their peak well and had a lot of big players return from injury at the right time.
"With a lot of young guys out there we probably just lacked a bit of semi-final experience,” he said.
"Having Shannon out injured is a big loss for us, so a bit of leadership went out in the last game.”
Flaherty said the Camelboks' big runners out wide proved too damaging for the Raiders.
"We just couldn't handle them,” he said.
"And we lost a lot of ball in possession and they got a lot of turnovers from us today.
"But credit to them they played really well. That's how they set up, they come home hard at the end of the year and they have done it again this year.”
The Kuttabul Camelboks will now face off against the Cities in the grand final next week.