THE Blue Lake Knights finished their minor rounds of the Limestone Coast Rugby League season with a loss to the top side Warrnambool Raiders on Saturday.
The Knights were on the back foot from the word go, with limited bodies making the trip to Horsham for the Round 9 clash.
However, with a bye in the final round this weekend, the Knights have done enough to reach the finals and will now wait to see which opponent they line up against.
Despite the 42-22 scoreline in favour of the Raiders on Saturday, half-back Donovan Wood said the result did not reflect the intensity on the field, with the final 10 minutes of the game a telling factor.
“Although we were unsuccessful in the game, the whole team played fairly well and maintained a fair bit of camaraderie,” he said.
“We had a couple of people pull out Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so we showed up with only one person on the bench.”
Wood said the Raiders took the game up to the Knights, but the side held up well until late in the game.
“The Raiders attacked very well,” he said.
“They ran straight at us and then spread the ball wide.
“They kept overlapping us and their ball play was very good.”
To take on the top side undermanned was an impressive effort from the Knights, with the half time score of 14-12 suggesting the side was right in the game.
Wood said despite the lack of numbers the Knights took the game on.
“To travel away with not as many people as we were supposed to have and play such a formidable team, it really does rattle the whole side,” he said.
“But we showed up confidently because of our last victory against the Bulls.
“We did not quite put it together the way we did the previous week, but there were plenty of positives.
“I feel with a full team and a bench that was not injured, we would have had a better run.”
The Knights scored four tries in the game, two from Jackson Standen and one each from Jack Wright and Chris Driver.
Jay Mariano was again on target to convert three of those tries.
From here the Knights have a week of to recover and work towards a semi-final clash, where they will face the top side, which is yet to be settled.
Regardless of who it is, Wood said he was confident the Knights could do the job, providing a full side can take the field.
The semi-final takes place on December 8 at Horsham.
The Raiders currently sit top of the ladder, equal on points with the second-placed Bulls.
Either of those sides will be a tough proposition for the Knights, but after a convincing win over the Bulls last round, anything is possible.
“We do not expect to walk out after the first week of finals,” Wood said.
“Although our year has not really reflected it, the last three weeks we have started to gel as a team.
“If we show up at training and work well together, there is no reason we cannot make the grand final.
“If we really turn it on and play well, I have 100pc confidence we can walk away with the whole thing.
“We have beaten the top team and although that is only one victory, we both showed up evenly matched, which proves we have the ability to win.”