The Canberra Raiders Harold Matthews Cup season (under 16’s) has come to an end, after losing their semi-final by 26-12 against South Sydney on Saturday afternoon.
The Raiders trailed the Rabbitohs 14-6 at halftime and were unable to catch them in the second half, despite a spirited effort from the young Raiders.
Raiders Co-Coach Adam Kyle said he was proud of the team’s effort and said the players would learn from the loss as they continued their rise through the grades.
“We really pushed a very good team all the way. The boys turned up with a great attitude and we can’t doubt their effort to compete,” Kyle said. “But at stages in the game and same as last week against Newcastle we just lacked some finish to our sets and some composure with the footy.
“Unfortunately for our boys we had a few dropped balls at the big points in the game. But full credit to them we kept having a crack right down to the last play of the game. It’s a great learning environment for the squad and staff and I’m sure we have all taken something from the past 2 weeks especially.”
Kyle said the team began the game with plenty of enthusiasm, but the early lead from the Rabbitohs proved too much for the team to catch.
“We started the game really positive and traded sets well with Souths, but a few turn overs really cost us with Souths punishing us to lead 14-6 at half time,” he said. “At the break we talked to boys about sticking with our game plan and continue to go set for set with Souths. Much like the first half Souths kicked away early in the second half and was too much for us to pull back.”
It’s the first time the Harold Matthew’s team has made the finals in eight seasons and Kyle said the coaching staff and club was proud of their efforts.
“At the end of the game we couldn’t have been happier with the efforts that this team put in not just in this match but all season. It shows we could compete against the top teams in this division and really give them a shake,” he said. “It’s a great credit to the boys that in all the games we lost this season we probably had chances to win the games. It’s a fantastic competition and to finish fourth was a great achievement. But more than that we can see the players have grown as men and as footy players which is the most important thing.”
Kyle said seeing the team improve and grow as a unit was one of the most satisfying things about the season and said they can hold their heads high.
“For me the personal development that we have witnessed from the boys, as their first taste of rep footy they really have had a great crack,” he said. “We prided ourselves on not worrying about winning games, but focusing on our defence and working as a team. I think the boys really bought into this concept and that showed with great results through the season.”
“As a staff we addressed the boys to say how proud we all were of them. Sometimes in footy you need to learn a hard lesson. We wanted all the players to take a great experience out of this season and take that forward into their junior league seasons with their local clubs.
“We are very excited to see these boys progress in their careers.”