The Canberra Raiders have beaten the Newcastle Knights 26-20 in a pulsating match in front of 14,674 fans at Hunter Stadium tonight.
Raiders fullback Anthony Milford set up two tries in a game where the sides drew level three times before a Raiders try in the final minutes sealed the result.
The Raiders young guns combined early to put the visitors in front; five eighth Jack Wighton grubbered into the Knights’ in-goal for Jarrod Croker to pounce. Anthony Milford added the extras for a 6-0 lead after 8 minutes.
With 14 minutes played, a long pass by former Raider Michael Dobson found an unmarked Akuila Uate who streaked away to score out wide. Kurt Gidley missed the conversion and the Knights trailed by two points.
In the 20th minute Dobson put Beau Scott through a gap and the second rower raced 25 metres to score his second try of the season. Gidley converted to make it 10-6.
In a see-sawing half, the Raiders hit back after 24 minutes through interchange hooker Josh Mccrone who darted out of dummy half past some lazy Knights defence to score a soft try. Milford missed the conversion attempt to leave the sides locked up at 10-all.
Late in the half former Knight Joel Edwards dumped Chris Houston in a tackle well after Houston had passed the ball, and players from both sides came together, with Edwards put on report.
The second half didn’t start well for the Raiders when Josh Papalii was forced from the field with an ankle injury in the 49th minute.
Milford showed his silky skills in the 52nd minute when he drifted down the left side before stepping off his left foot and bursting into the back field. Croker backed up and took the pass to score his second of the night. Milford converted to give the Raiders the lead, 16-10.
The Knights hit back soon after when the Raiders failed to deal with a Roberts grubber, and James MacManus won the race to the ball to score. Gidley converted to tie it up at 16-all with 20 minutes left.
Five minutes later Roberts took a Joseph Leilua offload 20 metres out from the Raiders line and with nothing much on, he somehow found a gap and beat Milford to the corner to score a decisive try. Gidley missed the conversion but his side led 20-16.
Milford again haunted the Knights defence, as he broke clear with 12 minutes left on the clock. He found Croker who offloaded to Paul Vaughn to score a great team try. Reece Robinson missed the conversion and again the game was locked up.
A Jack Wighton 40/20 with 5 minutes left gave the Raiders great field position but a poor pass to Edrick Lee ended their attacking raid.
With just two minutes left, Milford poked a kick through to be cleaned up by Knights debutant Matt Minto. Unfortunately for the Knights he spilled the ball in the tackle, and Edwards found Croker who in turn spun it wide to Lee to score the matchwinner. Robinson converted from out wide to give his side a well-deserved win, their first of 2014.
Canberra Raiders 26 (Croker 2, Lee, McCrone, Vaughn tries; Milford 2 goals, Robinson, 1) defeated Newcastle Knights 20 (Uate, McManus, Roberts, Scott tries; Gidley 2 goals) at Hunter Stadium.