Raiders' historic grand final break-through
THE Tweed Coast Raiders are through to the club's first grand final in history after defeating the Murwillumbah Mustangs 16-12 today at Les Burger Field in Cabarita.
The Raiders, who dominated the first half, looked at times jittery in the closing stages but held on to defeat a Mustangs side looking for a grand final return after the club's inspired 2016 premiership.
Brent Kite, the Raiders' revelatory first-year coach, said he was thrilled for his new club, which is into its first grand final since rejoining the league in 2016.
"I'm very happy that we're though,” Kite said.
"We really wanted to work on our O, and as it turns out it was a little bit clunky again.
"If we had two first halves I think we would have won comfortably.
"That compiled with a few injuries and errors upon errors made it closer than it needed to be, but credit to Murwillumbah for their strong showing, they gave themselves every chance to win the game at the end.”
Kite said he thinks the his side, after breaking their finals duck, are now primed to take on Ballina with the experience of two pressure finals under their belts.
"I think it might have been a bit foreign for us last week (when the Raiders lost to Ballina), it was the first time in a major semi for a lot of these guys,” Kite said.
"I think going down to Ballina the pressure will be released.
"We're going to head down there and try and upset the premiers.”
After looking the superior side in the first half and going into the main with a 12-4 lead, Kite's Raiders managed to hold-off the valiant Mustangs who, inspired by their Reserve Grade outfit, almost pulled off a second unlikely comeback of the day.
The win relieved the home fans on the hill who packed the western stand for one of the biggest days of NRRRL finals football ever in the Tweed, with all three local sides vying for spots in the grand final across different divisions, including local derbies in reserve and first grade football.
The Raiders will take on reigning premiers Ballina next Sunday at Kingsford Smith Park, Ballina at 2.45pm.