Raiders run ends early -- Tweed Coast out of finals
By TANIA PHILLIPS
THERE will be no Tweed team in this year's Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League grand final after the region's last hope, Tweed Coast Raiders, were bundled out in the minor semi-final at Bogangar on Saturday.
The Raiders, second on the ladder after the regular season, fell victim to a determined Lismore Marist Brothers who kept alive their finals campaign with a 24-10 triumph.
Marist Brothers will face Mullumbimby in next week's preliminary final after they were beaten 31-24 by Ballina in the major semi-final yesterday.
The winner of that match will face Ballina in the grand final on September 16.
Marist Brothers opened the scoring Saturday, before Dane Heron crossed for the home side to close the gap to 6-4.
The visitors crossed again to set up a 12-4 lead at the break but took control early in the second half.
"They went up 12-4 at half time and then scored another try after the break," Raiders coach Nathan Jordan said.
"But it was a good game.
"I can't fault the way the boys played. All the boys played well and we had our chances. We played well and they played well.
"Joey Coyne on the wing had a sensational game.
"Compared to last week it was a big improvement."
The Raiders elimination marks the first time in the competition's three-year history that a Tweed club has not contested the grand final.
The Cudgen Hornets claimed the premiership in 2006, downing Murwillumbah in an all Tweed affair while the Mustangs won the inaugural premiership in 2005.
The Raiders, playing their first season in the top grade since returning to senior football, had emerged as Tweed's premiership favourite this season after finishing the home and away competition in second place.
However, successive losses in the finals series ensured an early end to their campaign.
Jordan, however, refused to be downcast, choosing instead to look to the future.
"Hopefully we can keep the same guys together for a few more years and then we will get a (grand final) win in the future," he said.
"At the start of the year I don't think many people expected us to get as high as we did. It is a big thing and something to learn from."
MARIST BROTHERS 24 (Brett Spears (2) Dylan Coleman, Bart Foster tries. Evan Hickling (4) goals.) TWEED COAST 10 (Dane Heron, Michael Sharp tries. Adam Atkin (1) goal). Reserve Grade: Mullumbimby 32 d Lower Clarence 26; Under-18s: Tweed Coast 22 d Ballina 10