FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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Seiffert Oval in Quenbeyan was the venue for this clash. The last time I attended a match at this venue it was to see Mal Meninga play, and the weather was similar that day ? cold, wet and miserable. The two sides ?warmed up? in a steady drizzle of icy cold rain, which, thankfully, ceased just after the game kicked off. Despite the rain ceasing, the ball was still slippery, and fingers were still cold and stiff, so handling by both sides really suffered in an otherwise very skilful and entertaining game. The first try of the game came after a knock on by the Raiders on halfway led to a Knights scrum feed, and the Knights put on a backline movement from the scrum leading to fullback Sam Wooden scoring in the corner. Halfback Luke Walsh converted from the sideline. For the next ten minutes of the game the Knights were repeatedly threatened the Raiders line but came up with knock ons at crucial times. Luke Walsh knocked on over the line after looking to have gathered in a kick by 5/8 Scott Dureau ? which was to be the first of many mistakes by Walsh for the day. The next try came when Luke Walsh did a clever short kick on halfway to just behind the Raiders line. The kick was gathered in by centre Alex McCosker who drew the fullback and sent winger Stephen Gordon on a 30 metre run to the tryline. Walsh converted from in front. The Knights were soon on the attack again, and, for the second time of the day, Luke Walsh knocked on in goal attempting to regather a Dureau kick. The Raiders then got their first chance to pressure the Knights line, and the Knights held them out, only to knock on from the 20 metre restart and give the Raiders a repeat set. The Raiders scored on tackle three when powerful fullback Jade Williams broke a tackle near the line. Winger Brent Crisp converted. The Raiders repeated the dose five minutes later when Knights prop Larry Tuafua knocked on near halfway and the Raiders put on a good backline movement from the scrum leading to Williams scoring in the corner. Crisp converted from the sideline. The Raiders were on a roll and threatened the Knights line several times, but came up scoreless. A penalty to the Knights gives them a chance to attack, and Walsh partially redeems himself by splitting the defence and scoreing near the posts. He converted his own try. Both sides had chances to increase their score before halftime, and both sides failed to finish due to poor handling. Knights 18 ? 12 Raiders was the halftime score. After half time the Raiders were quickly on the attack after more spilt ball by the Knights in their own half, but failed to convert their chances. Walsh got the Knights out of trouble with a 40 ? 20 kick that found touch on the 10 metre line, but a poor pass to winger Callan Richardson saw him knock on with the line open. Richardson soon got a chance to redeem himself when Scott Dureau did a perfect kick from 30 out which stopped in the in goal and Richardson won the chase to the ball to touch down. Walsh failed to convert from the sideline. From the kick off the Knights put on an attacking raid that saw them go the length of the field, with winger Stephen Gordon kicking ahead from 20 out and, for the third time, the ball was knocked on in goal. For the next ten minutes the Raiders put pressure on the Knights line, but fail to score. The next try came to the Raiders with a brilliant ?hot potato? effort from 60 metres out, which saw the ball go through several sets of hands till replacement player Brendan Crisp scored. Crisp converted. The Raiders were on fire from then on, with several great attacking raids held out by the Knights till another great team try by the Raiders from halfway was scored by winger Troy O?Sullivan. Crisp missed the conversion. With the score on 22 ? 22 both sides had their chances in attack ? only to knock on at crucial times. The Raiders broke the deadlock when given a penalty 20 out and three in from the sideline. Crisp kicked the goal to put the Raiders ahead 24 ? 22. With minutes remaining Knights captain Scott Dureau seems to have blown all chance of a win by kicking out on the full from the kick off. The Raiders attack the Knights line and force a line drop out. The Knights took a short kick off in the hopes of having one last go, but the Raiders gather the ball in and are camped on the Knights line with seconds to go in the game. The final twist in a game that saw end to end attacking action spoilt time after time came with seven seconds left on the clock. The Raiders looked certain to score when a kick was made to the corner where three Raiders were facing on Knights defender, but Knights captain Scott Dureau had other ideas, and charged down the kick, gathered it up, and ran 90 metres to score the match winning try as the siren sounded.
For the Knights the best players were replacement forward Warren Schillings, and Scotty Dureau had a real captains game to hold the side together. Best for the Raiders was fullback Jade Williams, who is big, fast, and has great positional play.
Final score Knights 26 ? 24 Raiders.
Photo - Scotty Dureau