Raiders coach Dylan Hill has conceded his men will need to up their game quickly if they want to make it past the first week of the finals, after they fell 44-28 to Wellington at Kennard Park on Sunday.
The Cowboys shot to a 22-0 lead in front of a bumper Sponsors’ Day crowd – which included some South Sydney Rabbitohs – before Macquarie were able to get on the board through Jade Hooper.
Hooper made a “massive impact” off the bench; he hadn’t even been expected to play following a recent death in the family.
AROUND THE GROUNDS
They crossed again to trail 28-10 at the break, but once again were slow to start as Wellington pulled away to lead 44-12.
The Raiders piled on 16 unanswered points in the final 25 minutes to peg the margin back to 44-28.
“It wasn’t one of our best performances … in patches we just weren’t in the game at all, we were just getting torn apart defensively at times,” Hill said.
He commended try-scorer John Ciappara on a strong performance, and thanked Hooper for playing.
The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in honour or Hooper’s late father.
“As a club we are like a family so we wanted to pay our respects,” Hill said. “As a club we really appreciated Jay playing.”
THE FINAL MAKE-UP
They now face the prospect of Forbes in an elimination semi-final, and Hill said a good attitude from the first whistle would be crucial.
“We can’t keep having these slow starts because, allowing teams to get a lead, we’re chasing our tails all the time,” he said.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us to play them but I have the belief we can win – again it comes down to putting in the effort on the field.”