The 2018 Group 11 season hasn’t panned out exactly like the Macquarie Raiders would have planned.
With new coaches in all grades, the club was keen to develop a new culture and usher in a new era of success.
It didn’t quite pan out that way, but a grand final day win over their fierce derby rivals would go a long way to making it a season to remember.
While the first grade side failed to make finals and the under 18s and and league tag sides were bundled out of the finals early, the reserve grade side will be in action this weekend at Apex Oval.
The Raiders will take on Dubbo CYMS in the grand final after Tim Allan and his men cruised past the Wellington Cowboys in Sunday’s preliminary final.
“We’ll try and get one back on CYMS. We’re in the big dance and it’s a good feeling,” Allan said after his side’s 34-10 win on Sunday.
“We had the club riding on us. It’s good to do it for Macquarie.
“It hasn’t been the easiest year but the girls went well and were unlucky last week so it will be good to fly the flag for Macquarie next week.”
It was a strong all-round performance on Sunday, so much so Allan labelled his side’s most consistent effort of the season.
The captain-coach set the tone early, barging over from close range in the sixth minute to score the match’s first try.
A rampaging Ted Ebsworth and hard-running Hayden Chapman also scored in the first half and while the Cowboys got the deficit back to just six when the half-time whistle sounded, that was as close as they got.
Newly-crowned Mark Murphy Shield winner for the reserve grade player of the year, Craig McLean, came to the fore in the second half.
The skilled halfback set up Luke Taylor’s first try with a lovely short ball and was heavily involved as the Raiders ran in seven tries in the match.
While the victory was a showing in team work, there was plenty of praise for McLean.
“It’s a pretty big achievement and we spoke about it in the sheds before the game,” Allan said of the shield win.
“We let him lead us around out there and it’s good with Chris (Daley) on the other side now.
“Craig had a bit too much weight on his shoulders early in the season when not having a full-time five-eighth there but now in the back-end of the season he’s got back to his game and it shows in his game and with the player of the year award.”
The result brought an end to the Wellington Cowboys’ season and it was disappointing, with Nathan Smith’s second half send off compounding things.
Norm West scored a fine individual try late on, beating a number of Raiders defenders during an 80m run, but it proved to be nothing but a consolation.
- MACQUARIE RAIDERS 34 (Hayden Chapman 2, Luke Taylor 2, Tim Allan, Ted Ebsworth, Sam McDermott tries; Craig McLean 3 goals) defeated WELLINGTON COWBOYS 10 (Nathan Stewart, Norm West tries; West goal)