Brilliant Viking Clap’s
The Canberra Raiders look like they have discovered a terrific new tradition, with the Viking Clap uniting their fans and providing a home atmosphere advantage which could feature at GIO stadium for years to come. The simultaneous claps that the entire Raiders supporters base engage in has been performed before kick-off at the Raiders past two home games, however on Saturday Canberra supporters also used it in an attempt to throw Panthers goal-kicker off target.
Rough Night for Cleary
In his second finals appearance and just his 15th NRL game, young gun halfback Nathan Cleary had to endure a punishing night, as he was constantly targeted by Raiders mountain Junior Paulo. The 110 kg wrecking ball looked intent to charge at the 90 kg halfback with each touch of the ball, sending Cleary flying backwards into the turf at one stage. The 18 year-old never backed down though, coming up with 26 tackles despite also missing 6. He also showed tremendous poise for his age to slot 2 sideline conversions, despite having 21,000 Raiders fans piling pressure on him with their thunderous Viking Clap.
Rapana’s Rise Continues
Jordan Rapana has almost put the cherry on top of what has been a tremendous break out season for the 27 year old. Rapana played just 5 games for the Gold Coast Titans in 2008, before leaving the sport in 2009 to take on a mormon mission. The New Zealand winger added to his tally of NRL games in 2014 with the Raiders, however 2016 has seen him well and truly establish himself as an NRL star. Rapana crossed for his 22nd try of the season on Saturday night, putting him as the equal highest Raiders try scorer in a single season. The achievement puts him amongst several Canberra greats such as Jason Croker and Brett Mullins, and with at least one more game to play for 2016 against the Storm on Saturday night, he has a great opportunity to put himself in the history books.
Injured Duo Provide Spark
They were a chance of not even playing until just days before Saturday’s game, however the injured duo of Blake Austin and Josh Hodgson were influential in their sides victory against the Panthers. Austin made a return from a hand injury which he admits should have ended his season, and his impact was felt quickly as he stepped his way through for a great solo try in the 11th minute. Hodgson was also terrific, with the Dally M contender battling on despite suffering a nasty ankle injury just a week earlier, and also dealing with a stomach virus throughout the week that caused him to lose 1.5kg.
Canberra Raiders 22
Tries: J Rapana,B Austin, J Croker
Goals: J Croker 5/5
Penrith Panthers 12
Tries: T Peachey,D Watene Zelezniak
Goals: N Cleary 2/2