1st Division a bridge too far for Raiders

2013-09-19 00:00

IT was a bridge too far for Pinetown Raiders on Saturday as they lost their promotion-relegation clash against UKZN in Durban 29-7.

Having won the Findlay Cup against Drakensberg the previous week, Raiders were certainly not lacking in confidence and approached the match knowing the importance of winning and gaining promotion to the First Division next year.

It was not to be though and, in hindsight, the long season caught up with the players as tired legs kicked in and the final push was just not strong enough.

Raiders’ points came from eighth- man and captain Brayn Steyn, who dotted down over the whitewash for Werner Wolfaard to convert.

It’s unfortunately back to start for Pinetown but, in hindsight, it may be a good thing for a young side that perhaps need to find their feet a little in the tougher and higher echelons of club rugby.

Looking back over the season, there is no reason for the players and supporters to hang their heads. In an incredible turnaround, the club have stood tall, making a name for themselves, earning respect and encouraging local players to join.

Back in March, the club lifted the East Coast Tens trophy and then planned an assault on the Walker Cup. Along the way, they beat Durban Collegians, College Rovers, Queensburgh and Varsity College and recorded a fine record of 13 wins from 15 games in the league, scoring an average of 20 points each game. This saw Raiders double their points difference from last season, and winning the Findlay Cup was just reward for the effort put in by players, coaches, the committee and supporters.

“We are in a development stage as a club and have a five-year plan in place to become one of the best clubs in our area, playing hard, competitive rugby at a high level,” said Raiders chairperson Phillip Pieterse.

“Step one was to give the Walker Cup a good go and we definitely did that, making many sides sit up and take note of us. Step two was to get into First Division rugby but unfortunately we fell short although we did at least reach the promotion play-off.”

Pieterse added he was proud of his players, saying they can look back with pride on their season.

“We also have a strong youth policy at the club, recruiting and building a young side,” he said.

“We fielded seven U21 players in our Findlay Cup final and boast eight U21 DRSU (Durban Rugby Sub-Union) players at the club.

“This is a great foundation to build on and we will definitely be back next year to secure that First Division spot,” Pieterse said.

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