Harold Matthews (Under 16s)
Canberra Raiders 24 defeated Illawarra Steelers 6 at WIN Stadium, Wollongong
When he initially looked at the 2014 Draw, Raiders Coach Adam Kyle knew that the opening three rounds of the season would test his young side given that they were all away fixtures.
Fast forward to the conclusion of Round 3 and the Raiders have registered three wins from three games leaving Kyle full of admiration for his side after the 24-6 defeat of the Illawarra Steelers.
“Once again I can’t praise the boy’s efforts enough, particularly in defence,” Kyle said. “We have set tough team goals this year around defence and week after week they continue to work hard for each other.
“We have prided ourselves on being tough in defence and the boys have put in that sort of effort week on week. If we can keep this effort and attitude up all season the boys will keep on improving.”
The match was played in dour conditions with torrential rain hammering down all game. The Raiders endured a determined Illawarra outfit in the first half however managed to ascend to a 12-6 lead at half-time on the back of a staunch effort from the side’s forwards.
In the second stanza, with the Raiders superior fitness coming to the fore, the forwards forced a few turn overs and the backline capitalised on them with Australian Under 15s fullback Nic Cotric and Sebastian Kris each finishing with a hat-trick of tries. Unfortunately, not a single try was converted.
Cotric finished with Man of the Match honours whilst Kris made the most of his opportunity in the centres after playing wing in the previous two fixtures.
“Our backs have been good so far this season but our middle unit continues to push forward and get us ground for the outside boys to play,” Kyle said.
Kris' switch to the centres was one of a number of successful reshuffles by Kyle for the encounter.
“From the start of the season we asked the boys to compete for everything and each week the players have been keeping it very competitive within the team. The boys want to keep learning and it’s our job to help them improve. Those players earned their opportunities.”
The third straight wins sees the Green Machine placed at second on the ladder and one of only three sides to remain undefeated so far this season.
Despite their tremendous start to the year, Kyle has kept his players in check which is essential given that they are taking on the third placed Western Suburbs Magpies this weekend.
“As a group we are pleased to pick up three wins to start the season but at the same time we are under no illusions that this competition is played week to week and you can’t look too far ahead.
“Our composure at times was lacking, especially in wet conditions. We need to work on completing our sets and sticking with set structures but in this age group this is not all that uncommon. It’s a learning process and we will continue to work hard on the training field.
“We have the undefeated Wests this week who are a very strong side and will be very tough for our first home game.”
Raiders 24 (Nic Cotric 3, Sebastian Kris 3 tries) defeated Steelers 6
SG Ball (Under 18s)
Canberra Raiders 8 defeated Illawarra Steelers 4 at WIN Stadium, Wollongong
The Raiders SG Ball side has bounced back from their first defeat of the year and forced their way back into the top eight following a narrow 8-4 victory over the Illawarra Steelers in Round 3.
Two second half tries from gutsy halfback Jack Hickson enabled victory for the Raiders after no points were posted by either side in the first half, as torrential conditions at WIN Stadium affected the fluency of ball movement and contributed to simple ball handling errors.
“It was a tough slog in terrible conditions for footy,” Coach Peter Marrapodi said. “It was a scrappy game and in the first half neither side was able to get on top.
“At half time we spoke about sustaining pressure and we were eventually able to crack their line a couple of times thanks to Jack Hickson.”
Hickson was a stand-out for the Raiders in this encounter in both attack and defence.
“Our halfback Jack Hickson scored both of our tries but he also stood tall in defence,” praised Marrapodi. “Being the smallest player on the field they always send traffic his way and he was able to be aggressive and force a few errors.
“As a whole, our defensive effort was hugely improved from the previous week. We spent a lot of time on our defensive attitude at training and I was really happy with the way the players responded.”
The Raiders now sit in 8th position on the ladder and will look forward to their first of five home matches in a row this weekend against the Western Suburbs Magpies after three away games in a row to start the year.
It is in this patch of home games that Marrapodi believes his side can further climb up the SG Ball ladder, although it will be no easy feat.
“It’s very disappointing not to be three from three,” Marrapodi said. “We let the game slip against the Central Coast last week and we hope it doesn’t come back to bite us later in the year.
“We now have five games in a row at home but they are all against top rated opponents so we will only be looking ahead to one challenge at a time. This week we come up against very strong Wests outfit that is full of talent so we will need to be at the top of our game.”
Canberra 8 (Jack Hickson 2 tries) def. Illawarra 4 (Paora Kemp try)