Raiders close on lead
By BOB ANTHONY
THE Tweed Coast Raiders have moved into second spot on the Retravision Northern League points ladder after posting a comprehensive 41-16 victory over South Tweed in their final home game of the season at Les Burger Field yesterday.
The win has handed the Raiders a golden opportunity to secure a semi-final at their Bogangar homeground.
A victory over Murwillumbah in the final round next Sunday will guarantee a home semi-final while they are also a chance to snatch the minor premiership from current leaders Mullumbimby.
The Giants will face Byron Bay next week and should the Red Devils cause an upset, Tweed Coast could finish the regular season atop the ladder.
While the possibilities are exciting for the club, coach Nathan Jordan was far from happy with yesterday's performance.
"It was a scrappy game and we drifted away from our match plan," Jordan said.
"I'm pleased to come away with the win but for the majority of the game, South tweed, despite the fact they had a make-shift side, really matched us.
"We will have to improve quite a bit from today's performance if we are to be a force in this finals race."
Jordan said the loss of fullback Mike Ashburn early in the match forced a reshuffle in the backline which impacted on the team's combinations.
"To South tweed's credit they never gave up trying and it wasn't until the last 20 minutes that we managed to skip away from them," Jordan said.
"I think the boys may have been thinking about next week and beyond and we can't afford to do that.
"We are after a home semi final now and must keep winning to secure it."
For the injury stricken South Tweed, it was a gutsy effort to finish their season.
Next week they are meant to play South Grafton at Dave Burns Field but with the Rebels forfeiting at the weekend, yesterday's game is likely to have been the Bears last for 2007.
Co-coach Aaron Zimmerle said his side was made up of six regular A grade players and 11 other players backing up from the reserve and under 18 matches.
"I'm very proud of how they played out there considering the make-up of the side," Zimmerle said. "The Raiders really only got away after I was sent to the sin bin."
Yesterday's game marked the end of Bears co-coach Clint Barends' playing career.
Moving from five-eighth to lock, Barends produced one of his best games of the season.
"I think he saved the best til last and got our players' player award for his final effort," Zimmerle said.
For the Raiders, they were best served by prop Buddy King who has been in outstanding from recently and second-rowers Paul Abric and Corey Marr.
South Tweed won reserve grade 40-16 and remain a slim chance to make the semi-finals while the Tweed Coast took the under 18s 28-10 to entrench themselves in the top three on the ladder.