In what is a recurring theme for the Gippsland Gladiators, an undermanned team travelled to Reservoir to take on the Northern Raiders, going down 24-2 in front of a vocal home crowd recently.
The loss leaves the Gladiators with a 3-9 win/loss record for the season, including a 3-4 record against division two teams.
The game started well, with both teams’ defence forcing their opposition to punt, turning the game into a battle between the two punters as they fought for field position. Eventually, the disciplined special teams unit of the Northern Raiders showed their superiority, securing excellent field position for their offence.
In the very next series the Northern Raiders punched in a running touchdown, opening the scores to 6-0.
The ensuing two-point conversion was stopped, with Jesse Peters and Jason Dargie-Lee halting the attempted run.
The Gladiators were unable to gather any offensive momentum, only gathering handfuls of yardage, mostly with quick passing by Buck Buckhannon to wideouts Leigh Gouley and Riley Legg.
However, with players coming off injured, there was no real chance to develop a drive of any substance.
The score at half-time remained 6-0.
In the second half, the Gladiators tried to attack the weakness of the Raiders’ secondary, but after a quick personnel change, the weakness soon turned into a strength for the Raiders, who returned two interceptions for touchdowns, as well as running in a forth touchdown, bringing the score to 24-0 by the last quarter.
The highlight from the second half was a fumble return by Alex McDonald during a two-point conversion, bringing the score to 24-2.
In the end, the Gladiators finished with 17 fit players, and this unfortunately has forced the club to forfeit its last home game against division one leaders the Bay City Buccaneers, effectively finishing the 2012 season.