What a game to kick off the season, a replay of last year’s National League 1B Grand Championship Final. As befitted a match of such stature, the Union had three match officials for the game, possibly a first in a social league fixture.
The Raiders got off to a flying start with the forwards setting the platform for the backs to rip into the Tigers defence when Owen Pescod breaking the line scored a wonderful try, drawing first blood (ironic really as you will see later). Tom McKenzie’s reliable boot getting the conversion. Mark Norris having started the game was still on the pitch to most people's surprise.
Not long after the restart the Raiders were back into the attack with a lovely little chip seeing Pete ‘Hand Grenades’ Budd run the Tigers defence wild with his quick steps and untrue to his name, kept the ball in hand and dived over the whitewash to put the Raider 12-0 up.
Tom ‘I can kick it from anywhere’ McKenzie once again getting the extras and the Raiders were looking comfortable at 14-0 up and only 15 min. on the clock. Most rugby Mark Norris has played in years.
An unseen incident whist Wonder Boy Pescod was on the floor of the ruck resulted in a cut chin and the need to rush him off to the hospital to get some stitches.
The backs still looking good and running some killers moves almost scored a third try which was disrupted by an illegal knock down by a Tigers player seeing the team down to 14 men for 10 minutes.
Despite being a man down, it was Tigers with renewed vigor, roaring into attack, managed to score just before the half time whistle. Without Tom ‘Call me Johnny Wilkinson’ (his words) McKenzie on their side they missed the conversion. Even the ref commented on the fact that Mark Norris played the whole first half.
The second half was an even battle with both teams making their way up and down the pitch but it was Tigers who scored another try closing the gap the 14-12.
Too many Tigers infringements at the breakdown saw the Raiders with a penalty kick opportunity which Tom ‘Dan Carter eat your heart out’ McKenzie slotted between the posts to put Raiders up 17-12.
It wasn’t long before there was another penalty infringement, with Tony Falso and the referee taking exception to an infraction, just inside the Tigers half.
A loud confident voice could be heard even from the sides line saying, “I can make that!”. Tom ‘overconfident’ McKenzie stepped up to the plate, however his effort was short, later he explained it was to do with wind, not enough air in the ball and his girlfriend not kissing his lucky shoe laces before he left. Mark Norris said he would have made it, other's were just pleased to see he hadn't subbed himself off yet.
Tigers held more possession in the last quarter, and the Raiders found themselves camped on their own 5 meter line for the last 5 minutes of the game.
Tigers hit wave after wave, but the defence held out with some big hits coming from Ryan ‘this guy was everywhere’ Miller and eventually there was a fumble from the Yellow and Black with the ref deciding enough was played for today. Plenty of guys played the full 70 including Mark Norris (however no photographic evidence so I think it is all lies) and a big thanks must be said to the Marauders who came on after having already played. Great start for the Raiders and if they can get the numbers to training, no doubt they can turn this into a winning streak.
MotM: Ryan Miller
DotD: Mark Norris
Tries: Owen Pescod, Peter Budd
2 Conversions & 1 Penalty: Tom McKenzie