By CRAIG ROSScraigr@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
THE gap between semi-professional and club rugby league was evident but could not detract from a gutsy Gladstone Raiders effort in their 62-10 loss to Central Comets at Marley Brown Oval on Friday night.
The Raiders opened and completed the scoring but in between were handed a close-up look at the skill, speed and teamwork required of a Queensland Cup outfit in the trial game which drew more than 1000 spectators.
Gladstone gave their supporters reason to cheer early with winger Ashley Dodd intercepting near his own line and charging deep into Comets territory in the fourth minute.
The Raiders didn't capitalise on that opportunity but were across soon after when halfback Garry Brown, spotting the Comets' defensive line was stretched, spun it wide for winger Darryn Fisher to cross.
The advantage was short-lived with the Comets hitting back in the 14th minute when a glut of possession and quick play-theballs finally broke the Raiders' resistance, Central hooker Herewini Rangi forcing his way over from close out.
A second Comets try, with fiveeighth Darren Rodgers finding second-rower Guy Williams at pace to score in the 18th minute, gave the visitors a 10-4 lead at quarter-time.
The Comets' superior fitness told in the second period, running in four tries between the 23rd and 32nd minutes, and racing to a 38-4 lead at halftime as a second half points frenzy beckoned.
That prospect only grew more likely following a try to quickfire Comets fullback Wade Rothery less than six minutes after the resumption.
Instead, the Raiders found something extra in defence, holding out Central for the remainder of the quarter.
The Raiders maintained their defensive sting in the final quar-ter but could not prevent the welldrilled Comets posting further tries in the 66th, 68th and 74th minutes.
However, the home faithful who stayed until the end were given something to cheer about in the final seconds when Fisher crossed for his second try.
Five-eighth Matt Baker duly potted the conversion to finish on a high.