Nicholas Pepper hits four as Raiders 14 boys make the Grand Final


The first half was a very even and competitive half with both sides having an equal share of chances on goal.
Christopher Naumoff for the Eagles hit a long shot that was well turned away by Raiders keeper Tony Anic, Nicholas Pepper juggled the ball then hit a volley that keeper Dominic Breckenridge saved  then later Pepper went down the left side and hit a shot across the keeper that struck the post and rebounded away to safety.
Nicholas Pepper did a sweet backflick to tee up Jake Adelson but his shot went over.
The Eagles chose to play Peter Makrillos off the bench but he came on too good effect and his shot flashed just wide after receiving a nice pass from Blair Brown.
Raiders forward Tony Lo was also dangerous when he came off the bench and Eagles keeper Dominic Breckenridge twice made fine blocks to deny him a goal.
The game was moving from end to end but both sets of defences were reading the play well and cutting out the final ball or doing enough to prevent real threatening situations on goal so the sides went to the break at 0-0.
The second half was the reverse of the first with the attack dominating the defence and in the opening 3 minutes the Raiders grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck with three quick goals in succession that had the Eagles reeling.
Nicholas Pepper broke down the left side and slammed a long range shot across the keeper into the net in the first minute.
From the kick off the Eagles almost levelled when Peter Makrillos forced an excellent save from Tony Anic.
The Raiders immediately turned defence into attack as the ball was moved swiftly down court where Jake Adelson latched on to it and drilled the ball home from right side to make it 2-0.
Before anyone could settle the ball was in the back of the net again as Nicholas Pepper swept the ball home to make it 3-0.
In the space of 3 minutes the Raiders had virtually booked their place in the grand final with three unanswered goals.
The fighting Eagles were not done with and stormed back with two goals. The first when Bruno Andelmi hit a fierce long range shot that whistled into the net.
The second when Blair Brown sped down the right passed inside to Bruno Andelmi who teed up Peter Makrillos to sweep the ball home for an excellent goal to make it 2-3.
Sensing a real chance of a win the Eagles stepped up the pressure and the game intensified even more, but with the Eagles committing players forward the Raiders found space to run into and capitalised with devastating effect with two quick goals.
The Raiders fourth goal came when Tony Anic threw a long ball down court to Nicholas Pepper who turned onto his left foot and slammed the ball across the keeper into the net to grab his hat-trick.
Then shortly after Tony Lo evaded the defence and slipped the ball inside to Pepper who made no mistake from close range to make it 5-2
The Eagles never gave up fighting and forced Raiders keeper Tony Anic into several saves before Christopher Naumoff hit an unstoppable shot into the net from long range to round off the scoring.
In the dying moments 12?s player Adrian Epifanino almost made it six for the Raiders but for a fine save from the Eagles keeper.
In the end three lightening quick goals from the Raiders at the start of the second half was too big a setback for the Eagles to climb and so the Western Raiders 14 Boys rightfully earned the chance to playoff for the Grand Final next weekend.
Western Raiders                                                        Sydney City Eagles
7.  Jake Adelson                                                           11. Blake Tuxford
1. Tony Anic                                                                  2. Robert Perre
4. Hagi Gligoro                                                              7. Cameron Caligiuri
9. Nicholas Pepper                                                        8. Christopher Naumoff
8. Tom Whiteside                                                          6. Blair Brown
6. Adrian Epifanino                                                        7. Stavrou Petratos
5. Tony Lo                                                                    10. Peter Makrillos
                                                                                    9. Bruno Andelmi                                                                              
                                                                                    1. Dominic Brekenridge
                                                                                    18. Cameron Caligiuri
Raiders ? Jake Adelson, Nicholas Pepper 4
Eagles ?  Peter Makrillos, Bruno Andelmi, Christopher Naumoff

Fouls ? Raiders 4
             Eagles  1

Yellow Cards ? 1 Sydney City
Red Cards ? None
Officials –  Meni Belkadi, Dean Wright
By Peter Davies