Game 1: Swarco Raiders 54 – Graz Giants 51
I don’t think I could quite do justice to what a game this was to kick off the weekend with just words, so I’ve enlisted the help of the Raiders three minute highlight footage of the game below. As you’ll be able to garner from the footage, the game seemed to be dictated by how much the Raiders put their foot on the pedal as they initially roared out to a 37-7 halftime lead through a mixture of Hofbauer-power and John van den Raadt brilliance. The second half performance, whilst pleasing for the neutrals, seemed to be somewhat of a coaches nightmare for the Raiders top man Shaun Fatah, who conceded after the game that whilst he was happy with the win and the fighting spirit his side showed at the end of the game, that the Raiders could not go home happy with the performance.
However, huge credit must be given to the Giants for the comeback, as it’s very easy to give up the ghost when you’re down by such a margin. I imagine that at half time, the Giant players were reminded of last year’s playoff performance in Tirol, where they also erased a huge Raider lead before narrowly falling 52-49 to a late field goal, proving that it could be done. This time, behind a mature-looking, Gubisch performance in which he threw for three second half scores and ran in another, the Giants managed to push the game into overtime at 47-47. Ultimately it was not to be for the Giants, who despite taking the lead in OT, just didn’t have the experience to close it out against the Raiders.
For the Giants I feel like this could be a huge spark and a building block for them mid-season, but with their next game in week 7 against the Vikings, it could still be tricky to get that elusive first win. From a Raiders perspective, it was quite scary how their offence looked in that first half, with VDR seeming to really find his groove in both the passing and running game, but whilst I’m not sure how many backups were rotated in, the inability to cruise to the victory in the second half, really highlights where the difference is between them and the Vikings at the top.