Raiders grab closely fought win

Leader: Vaipuna Tia Kilifi attempts to keep the ball alive with an offload to Kieran Moss. Picture: Gary WarrickTHE Panthers Toyota Cup side fell 28-22 to competition leaders the Canberra Raiders last weekend for their fifth loss in six games. While the reigning premiers are next on the young cubs’ schedule, coach Garth Brennan knows they’re not unbeatable — his troops trumped them just two months ago.
Nanjing Night Net

What were your thoughts on full-time against the Raiders?

Disappointment. The game was there to be won and we were probably the better side for most of it but just didn’t get the result.

The Panthers led 18-16 at half-time. What was most disappointing about their second half?

We made too many errors — basic schoolboy errors — and you can’t do that if you’re going to compete against good sides.

Why do you think the side lapsed in concentration?

I don’t know.If it was under-12s and under-13s you could understand but we’re talking about the best under-20s competition in the world and the errors we made don’t resemble that at all.

You pointed out last week that the side wasn’t getting flogged by dud football teams and that a win was not too far away. Was Sunday’s loss another step towards that win or a step backwards?

I don’t think it was a step backward. Hopefully, we can keep believing in ourselves. It’s certainly not panic stations on my behalf.

Which players impressed you with their performance?

Vaipuna Tia Kilifi really stood out and carried the team like a good captain should but some other guys need to get on-board with him and start pulling their weight because he can’t do it all the time.

You’ve got another difficult clash and trek to Auckland on Sunday. How tough will it be against the Warriors?

This is the ultimate road trip in the NYC. It’s always tough going over there but it’s also exciting. They’re coming off two loses themselves and I’m sure they’re going to be desperate to bounce back but so are we, so it should be exciting.

Is there any other team news?

Matt Lodge and Chris Smith won two Test matches with the Australian Schoolboys side against Great Britain. That tour is now finished and it was a successful campaign so hopefully they can bring that confidence back with them for the next few weeks and back end of the year.

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