Experienced Raiders boil Mudcrabs
THE Whitsunday Raiders have used their wealth of experience to win their second straight away game at the weekend.
The Raiders outplayed an enthusiastic Bowen Mudcrabs 22-10 on Saturday afternoon, holding off their opponents in the second half despite a distinct wind advantage.
Whitsunday led 15-5 at halftime, but failed to fully consolidate on their 40 minutes with the breeze.
The Raiders couldn't find the rhythm needed to put Bowen away, with a plethora of mistakes costing the team a host of scoring opportunities.
Quick ball from the breakdown enabled Luke "Grassy" Griffiths to score in the fifth minute, darting to the line with his trademark shimmy for an early 7-0 lead.
But resting on their laurels and hoping the wind would do all the work, Bowen bounced back in the 17th minute through a dashing line break up the guts.
Maintaining a 7-5 lead, Whitsunday forwards Dom Kermac and Shayne Marriner won a penalty for their excellence at the breakdown - gifting Martin Roveda three-points to extend the Raiders' buffer to five. Captain Shannon Wolland - frustrated by his side's sloppiness - put it upon himself to cross on the halftime buzzer, with the unconverted try enabling Whitsunday a 15-5 lead.
Although they were 10-points clear, the Raiders felt they hadn't made the most of their wind advantage, leading to a spray from coach Isitolo Maka.
Maka made it clear how disappointed he was, and implored the team to change its ways quickly.
Whitsunday answered the coach's call, but a Wallaby wildcard brought a new challenge.
Former Australia prop Rodney Blake came off the bench to immediately impact scrum time, but it wouldn't matter as Martin "Marto" Barreneche made a barnstorming run for the line.
Out of seemingly nothing, winger Tai Roberts fielded a clearing kick 40m out from Bowen's line to unleash the mercurial Barreneche, who barged through the defence for the Raiders' third try.
The Mudcrabs would be rewarded for their efforts on the fulltime hooter, crossing for an unconverted try to see the final score read 22-10 in Whitsunday's favour.
Coach Maka said he was "disappointed in the first half which made it even harder going into the strong wind for the second half".
"In the second half we played really well [but] we must learn to finish off. We'll take our win and train hard."
Alex Cousins was a casualty of the game, rushed to hospital following a pre-game warm-up incident which required six stitches.
The Raiders will have a bye this weekend before returning to the newly refurbished Whitsunday Sports Park on Saturday, May 24 to host Slade Point.
Meanwhile, Scott Gerrand, Thomas Piazza, Jack Raitt, Tai Roberts, Martin Roveda, Scott Vella and Shannon Wolland will play for Mackay in a representative fixture this weekend, with Maka also named as coach.
Whitsunday Raiders 22 (Tries: Luke Griffiths, Shannon Wolland and Martine Barreneche. Conversions: Martin Roveda 2/3. Penalties: Roveda 1/1) defeated Bowen 10.