A SPIRITED second-half performance wasn't enough for Lake Cathie to mark their return to the Hastings League in style following a five-year absence from the competition on Saturday (April 10).
In the end a try to Lower Macleay fullback Isoa Navosa in the 75th minute sealed the Magpies' 30-16 victory, but it wasn't before the Raiders had closed to within 10 points with 15 minutes remaining.
Magpies captain Dennis Ritchie admitted it was good to get the first game of the season out of the way.
"The second half was really sloppy and we had a lot of missed tackles," he said.
"It started getting a bit fiery out there too and the boys started getting caught up in that, but you've got to keep away from that and play football."
Ritchie conceded his players started to get tired as possession evened up and the Raiders started their revival.
"We started falling apart and we've got to work on our fitness a bit more but we pulled away with the win which is good," he said.
Lock forward Brayden Davis along with fullback Navosa and wingers Maurice Kelly and Tighe Towney were the Magpies best.
Raiders captain Jarid Bruen was disappointed at the result although there were plenty of positives to come from their second 40 minutes.
"The boys should look at the second half and be really proud of themselves because they were outstanding," he said.
"I was doubting us towards the end of the first half but I shouldn't have because we took a bit of time to band together.
"It's a great effort from a team that's just played their first game together."
The hosts fumbled and bumbled their way through an error-riddled opening 40 minutes.
Their completion rate would have been lucky to hit 25 percent before they headed to the sheds staring at a 26-6 deficit.
"There were a lot of dropped balls and losses of possession and they counter-attacked straight off it," Bruen said.
"It's disappointing, but with new players that's something we learn from and will get better at as the year goes on."
When Tom Maguire crashed over out wide to close the margin to 10 points with 15 minutes to go the home crowd started to believe a win for the ages was unfolding.
The hosts couldn't get the job done, but Bruen said the crowd had played their part in lifting the side.
"I really can't thank the fans for the support we got; you could hear the crowd was all our way and that was what pulled us together so a massive thanks to them.
"One [round] down, 17 to go."
Lower Macleay Magpies 30 (Isoa Navosa, Thomas Stevenson, Jacob Smith, David Davis, Blake Skinner, Dennis Ritchie tries; David Davis, Dennis Ritchie goals) defeated Lake Cathie Raiders 16 (Jarid Bruen 2, Tom Maguire tries; Jarid Bruen 2 goals).
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