Ill-discipline almost costs Rhinos points
AN ill disciplined second half has almost cost the Grafton Rhinos a precious two points after the squad barely escaped Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League rivals the Tweed Coast Raiders with a 34-28 point victory at the Les Berger Field, Cabarita on Saturday.
The Rhinos led the hosts 28-4 heading into the second half, but in a dramatic 40 minutes, both half-backs (Todd Cameron and Raiders captain/coach Nathan Jordan) were sent to the bin for fighting and the Raiders piled on 24 points to steal a glimmer of hope.
Rhinos captain/coach Xavier Sullivan said his squad had played a high-tempo, physical match but bemoaned a second half where his players lost their stranglehold on the game.
“It was a good hard game and we showed some class in the first half,” Sullivan said.
“(But) it was out of control in the second half and we let them back in.
“We should have played a bit smarter and not be drawn down to their level.”
Sullivan said the Raider had targeted the Rhinos young guns in the second half, exerting pressure, getting in their faces and testing their limits.
“They niggled us a bit ... and that led to bit of ill-discipline (on our part),” he said.
“They tried to stand over our young players but we stuck together.
“We should have played the 80 minutes at our level and not down at theirs.”
Earlier, the Raiders sent the home crowd into delirium by taking an early advantage, but could not capitalise on its early fortune, surrendering the lead as the Rhinos ran riot.
Dwayne Duke (2), Steve Kirby (2) and Aaron Martin all took advantage as the Rhinos backs clicked into the gear while in defence, the team's strong pack was snuffing out the slightest hint of a Raiders opportunity.
“One of the positives of the match was our aggression in defence,” Sullivan said.
“We showed that our big forward pack won't be intimidated by anybody.”
The second half was a different story as the visitors racked up the penalties and conceded territory, and points, to the Raiders.
The Raiders onslaught turned the game into a pressure cooker which finally exploded when Cameron, along with Jordan, lost his cool and was sent to the sidelines.
However, a try to Joel Moss and the sure foot of Luke Worthing kept the Rhinos lead intact and with the full-time hooter, had ridden the back of a sublime first half to win by six points.
“A lot of the young boys stood up to today,” Sullivan said.
“Their young so you have to expect that (ill discipline) ... but it's up to the experienced guys to make sure they don't fall into the trap.”
- WRAP up of other games on page 16.
FIRST GRADE: GRAFTON RHINOS 34 (Dwayne Duke 2, Steve Kirby 2, Joel Moss, Aaron Martin tires; Luke Worthing 5 conversions) TWEED COAST RAIDERS 28
RESERVE GRADE: Tweed Coast Raiders 40 Grafton Rhinos 12
UNDER-18s: Tweed Coast Raiders 36 Grafton Rhinos 6