Canberra Raiders 42 (Wighton 2, Vaughan, Kennedy, Robinson, Croker, Milford tries; Croker 6 conversions, 1 penalty )
North Queensland Cowboys 12 (Lowe, Rona tries; Lowe 2 conversions)
The Canberra Raiders have demolished an understrength North Queensland Cowboys side 42-12 in the Nation’s capital in front of 8 412 fans.
The assignment was always going to be a tough ask for the Cowboys. North Queensland were missing Origin stars Jonathon Thurston, Matt Scott, Brent Tate, and James Tamou. While they toiled in the first half they were inevitably overrun.
For the Raiders, it was a promising sign of better things to come following three straight losses in which they leaked a total of 134 points against them.
It was a win that Canberra had to have and eases the pressure and Coach Ricky Stuart and Captain Terry Campese.
It didn’t all go the Raiders way however, the home side struggled to hold the ball in the opening fifteen minutes of the game, spoiling good early opportunities.
In the 18th minute of the game it was in fact the North Queensland side who opened the scoring, when Ethan Lowe charged onto a Robert Lui pass and in to a gap from close range.
Canberra hit back just five minutes later when a swift back line movement saw the ball travel from the left wing to right centre Jack Wighton to score his first try of the afternoon.
In the 30th minute, the Raiders crossed the stripe again through Paul Vaughn who collected a Dane Tilse offload and crashed over.
A Jarrod Croker penalty after Tariq Sims was put on report for a lifting tackle on Shaun Fensom extended Canberra’s lead to 14-6.
Right on the stroke of half time Wighton scored his second try, when field position after a Sami Sauiluma break saw the Cowboys stretched, allowing the Raiders to put the ball through the hands to take a dominant 18-6 half time lead.
Three minutes after the resumption of play, the North Queensland side game themselves a sniff at getting back in the contest when Curtis Rona showed great strength to get the ball down, however any talk of a comeback was short lived.
In the 46th minute, Campese strolled through some weak Cowboys defence to put Jarred Kennedy over, and in the 59th minute, they went further ahead through sideways movement, shifting the ball to Reece Robinson to cross and create a 30-12 scoreline.
The Raiders had found their attacking mojo again, Campese putting up a towering bomb in the 76th minute of the game for Croker to claim spectacularly.
Anthony Milford then showed speed and skill to put Wighton away before collecting the return pass to score and put the icing on the cake of a fine Canberra Raiders win.
The Cowboys will return home licking their wounds but also knowing they will see their stars return for their next game. While the Raiders face a stern test away from home against a resurgent Roosters side in a clash that will test if the Green machine are truly back in business.
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