Four minutes, 18 points: Raiders show flair to claim juniors crown | Photos, video

A scintillating four minute period that netted Macquarie 18 points just after half-time has catapulted the Raiders to the 2017 Group 11 under 18s title.

With a 16-6 lead behind them at the break and Forbes needing a massive second half to get back into the decider, it was Macquarie that stormed out of the blocks at break-neck speed in the second stanza.

Tries to Blaine Fernando, Thomas Brisbane and then Luke Gale – all converted by Randel Dowling – between the 35th and 39th minutes raced the blue and whites out to a 34-6 lead, stunning Forbes in the process.

The minor premiers stemmed the tide after that, but the damage had already been inflicted. 

Departing Macquarie lock Luke Gale was tremendous in the grand final day rout of the Magpies, as was player of the game Kane McDermott.

Gale said it was one of those games where everything stuck for the Raiders.

“We started well piling on the points at the start but I think the back-half of the first half we defended our line,” he said.

“Then in the second half we started well again … it all stuck for us, there was no time when we slackened off, we worked hard. I’m proud of the boys.”

Errors and penalties killed the 2017 minor premiers throughout the opening half. 

And, early on, Macquarie made the black and whites pay, too.

The Raiders scored initially through half Randel Dowling to shoot out to a 6-0 lead before the Raiders raced to a 16-6 advantage after hooker Kane McDermott crossed after a silly Forbes penalty.

But it was the Raiders second try that was truly special. 

With his side up 6-0, Raiders skipper Jai Merritt sensed an opportunity down a short side and took it. He skipped ahead and then sliced through a tiny gap before producing a remarkable around-the-corner pass for Blaine Fernando to score.

Forbes’ only bright patch in the opening 30 minutes came thanks to a Charlie Staines special, the Rams under 18s fullback producing a wicked right foot step to score the Magpies first points.

Needing a big second half with the title on the line, the young Magpies couldn’t land a meaningful blow.

Instead, it was all Raiders.

On the back of some brilliant play from the likes of Gale and McDermott, and Brisbane and Dylan Carr, the Dubbo club won its first under 18s title since 2010.

Brisbane’s try was arguably the four-pointer of the under 18s season.

With the play starting 50 metres out, Dylan Carr found space and then produced a fairly innocuous chip kick.

He regathered, then with defends draped over him, popped a beautiful off load to send Brisbane the remaining 30 metres to score a cracking grand final try.

As Gale mentioned, it was the sort of play the typified the Raiders’ day. 

A deflated Forbes coach Kye Merritt refused to take anything away from Sunday’s premiers.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Dubbo Macquarie, they turned up with a bit more hunger and will to win,” he said, before pointing to a bright future for his club.

“We’ve got a young squad. Ninty per cent of our squad is still 17. That’s their learning curve. I think next year they’ll be bigger and better. 

“(Macquarie) turned up ready, they’re a good side and proved that today.”

He said once the Raiders flicked the switch in those initial periods of the second half, it was all over.

“There was that period where they went back-to-back tries and a quality side like that, big forwards and good outside backs, when they’re going back-to-back it’s too hard to recover,” Merritt added.

  • DUBBO MACQUARIE 34 (Blaine Fernando, Dylan Carr, Randel Dowling, Luke Gale, Kane McDermott, Thomas Brisbane tries; Randel Dowling 5 goals) def FORBES MAGPIES 6 (Charlie Staines try; Kurt Mylecharane goal).