IT was a picture perfect afternoon for rugby league as crowds gathered at the Stroud Showgrounds for the Raiders first home game of the season.
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The three o’clock kickoff saw the home side welcome the Raymond Terrace Magpies, a team with a point to prove after a humbling 62-16 loss to Hamilton the week prior.
Stroud came into the match off the back of a tough 16-16 draw with Dungog, and chasing their first win of the season.
After a cagey opening five minutes, the deadlock was broken when Raymond Terrace’s Robert Quinn capitalised on a spilled ball to score the first points of the game.
The try was converted by Luke Handsaker to give the Magpies an early 6-0 point lead.
Stroud hit back almost immediately however, with Cal Lund intercepting a pass on his own line and showing an impressive change of pace to complete the length of field run to score.
Raymond Terrace crossed again on fourteen minutes through Luke Handsaker, before Will Tarpin sent his man the wrong direction with a well executed dummy to score another, giving the Magpies a well deserved 16-6 lead.
Stroud reduced the deficit shortly after, with Fred Kierce leaving three Terrace players in his wake as he stepped his way to the line to score.
Stroud were now enjoying their first spell of sustained attacking pressure, before some individual magic from Luke Handsaker saw him score with a run from within his own half to stun the home side on the break.
The teams went into the sheds at half-time with Stroud trailing 22-12.
Stroud started the brighter after the break, with Harry Reid reducing the deficit to four points, after a powerful solo try and conversion.
Both teams crossed the line in the following minutes to bring the scores to 28-24, leaving Stroud with a lot of work to do to get the victory.
Clinton Quartly then scored for the Magpies, before Stroud’s Fred Kierce crossed again for the home side, setting up a thrilling finish, with Stroud trailing by four points with six minutes to play.
The 300-strong crowd urged Stroud forward, but in the end it was Raymond Terrace who had the final say, with Brooke Roach bulldozing his way over the Stroud defense and then the line to finish the game 38-30 to the away side.
Raymond Terrace player coach Brooke Roach, who’s try made the difference in the final minutes, said he was pleased with how his team had played overall.
“I thought we were a bit sloppy in defence, but it has been a long time between games so that will be a factor. I was pretty happy with our attack,” he said.
He also praised Stroud for the spirit in which the game was played.
“Stroud put up a good fight, they have a bit of grit and a never give up attitude so it is great to come up against them.
It is really nice to be back on the field. So good to see all the boys back out there.”
Raymond Terrace will hope to build on their victory when they take on Dungog in their Round Four matchup on Saturday.
Stroud will chase their first win of the season away at Morpeth.