In what could be described as a ‘mud-bath’, the Raiders vs Bulldogs trial match at the Worker’s Arena was still a spectacle, with the Raiders winning 22-18.
Players from both sides relished the opportunity to play in park conditions as opposed to a stadium.
The slippery conditions also caused injury to Raiders player Blake Ferguson, who was taken off in the first half with a bleeding nose.
Raiders coach David Furner was impressed with his side’s performance, and is hopeful of a great season for 2013.
“We try to get as much as possible out of these trial matches, especially crucial game time,” he said.
“It’s also important to not get too many injuries, and I think we’ve achieved that tonight. Obviously there are some areas that we need to improve and work on, but we’ve gone into these last couple of trials with primarily a defence focus, so I thought tonight in those sort of conditions- two tries from kicks was a good effort.
“I’m pretty pleased with the boys tonight, they played well.”
Furner also congratulated the crowd on sticking it out to the very end in some very trying conditions, with quite heavy rain at times.
He emphasised the strong rugby league support base in Goulburn.
“I’ve got to give a massive wrap to the crowd, because they still stayed in there,” he said.
“I was at the Men of League dinner last night, and there would have been 200 odd people.
“Goulburn’s always been a rugby league town, and it just showed that rain, hail or shine, they love their rugby league. It was good to see, and the Workers Arena is also a very good venue.”
Furner’s main focus has been consistency throughout the whole squad, and he didn’t single out one player specifically.
“We’ve been talking a lot about the squad, and being consistent as a whole,” he said.
“I mean, yes I’ve got to make some decisions for Round One, and pick a team of 18 players, but there were certainly a few of them putting their hands up to be picked for the first round.
Tonight I thought our outside backs were pretty strong, lead by Sandor Earl, and ‘Fergo’ (Blake Ferguson), and also Joey P (Joe Picker) in the centres, too. Also young Edrick Lee and ‘Reecy’ (Reece Robinson) who covered the fullback role- I just thought our outside backs, especially in those conditions really got the team forward.”
The Raiders will go into the first round confident that they can field a strong side. Going into round one, they face the Penrith Panthers on Sunday March 10 at Centrebet Stadium.