Raiders' title bid falls short
RUGBY UNION: A fine season ended on a heartbreaking note for Proserpine-Whitsunday last Saturday.
The Raiders' bid for a first Mackay Rugby Union A-grade premiership in five years fell just short following an 11-7 loss to City at BB Print Stadium.
Despite enjoying an advantage in field position and possession during the second stanza, Prosperine-Whitsunday was thwarted by the Redmen.
Raiders coach Andre Houston, while disappointed with the loss, heaped praise on his dejected players post-match.
"We're coming away as victors, not on the scoreboard but in us building to where we've got to as a club,” Houston said.
"So while we didn't get the result, we're winners in what we know and what our hearts feel.”
The match proved a torrid, tense affair, with both sides guilty of making errors under the hottest pressure of the year.
City drew first blood with a penalty goal inside the first 10 minutes and the 3-0 scoreline remained at the main break, even though Proserpine-Whitsunday looked more threatening in attack.
But flowing movements, sparked by creative halves Jarryd Tanimu and Victor Carrat Garcia on the back of powerful work from the forwards, did not translate into points.
The half-time scoreline would have made for more worrying reading if not for John Mitchell's try-saving tackle on a City rival just metres from the touchline.
The Raiders started the second half as they ended the first - on the attack - but a City try on 53 minutes through Samson Moimoi against the run of play extended the gap to 8-0.
Proserpine-Whitsunday needed a reply, and fast.
They enjoyed exactly that, with a penalty try on the hour mark after a rolling maul sparked by a barnstorming effort from prop Lorcan Carey.
His work was inspirational at times and it was no wonder he was given a rousing reception from the Raiders faithful, who had travelled to Mackay in numbers to offer support.
The gap was one and the tension rose as both sides pressed hard.
City soaked up the pressure and landed what would prove the telling blow on 66 minutes after winning a penalty.
Winger Jesse Meinicke stepped up and slotted a difficult conversion to move the scoreline to 11-7.
Proserpine-Whitsunday would roll the dice a couple more times in attack but lack of execution proved decisive as City held firm for a famous victory.
The dejection was clear to see on the Raiders, who had come so close but finished so far.
Carey was magnificent in the front row and his efforts on a balmy Mackay September day had to be seen to be believed.
Back-rower Mitchell worked hard throughout, while outside centre Jack Nowell consistently posed a threat in attack with football in hand.