Canberra and Newcastle played out a very entertaining game with 74 points being scored including some spectacular tries from both sides. Canberra needed to win this game to keep their slim finals chances alive and will now watch on praying for results to go their way, whilst Newcastle have all but locked up a third straight wooden spoon.
Raiders Quick Start
Ricky Stuart lamented his sides’ slow start in last week’s loss to Penrith so it was no surprise to see The Green Machine come out firing at the start of this game. Newcastle didn’t know what hit them as Canberra’s big men Junior Paulo and Shannon Boyd laid the early platform with some big runs before Paulo opened the scoring himself crashing over next to the posts.
Canberra continued the next set the same way with their forwards eating up the metres, they were also ‘aided’ by some penalties and were able to cross again through Jarrod Croker. A penalty goal soon after had Canberra out to a 12-0 lead, after as many minutes at this point Newcastle had only touched the ball once which again highlights what a powerful and controlled start The Raiders had produced.
Although Newcastle replied with the next two tries they never really recovered from the early onslaught and were playing catch up the entire night.
Jordan Rapana has had a fantastic year and has been a shining light in what has been mostly a disappointing season for Canberra, but the Kiwi winger has been quiet the last few weeks compared to his lofty standards so it was only time before he broke from his slumber.
Rapana was at his brilliant best racking up 151 metres on 13 runs, also producing 3 line breaks and crossing the line for 3 tries. Rapana can thank his inside men for putting on some ‘slick’ plays to set up his treble as Aiden Sezer, Blake Austin and Jack Wighton all combined well throughout the game, but Rapana was the star of the night which showed why he is seen as the best winger in the game today.
Canberra Still a Chance
Canberra are still mathematically a chance to make the finals although it seems the likely hood of this happening is slim, but Canberra did what they had to do and that was to beat Newcastle and try to boost their for and against.
During the post game press conference Ricky Stuart seemed like he had almost conceded that they weren’t going to play a part in finals footy this year and couldn’t help himself as he again lamented his sides crucial loss last week to Penrith. Stuart talked about getting the job done and hoping for results but it was clear even the coach knows it’s a long shot.
Canberra will now be ‘death riding’ Manly’s two remaining games after The Cowboys moved 4 points clear of The Raiders with their win over Wests making it impossible for Canberra to jump them.
Newcastle have been brave and they’ve battled hard all year but it seems now a long tough season is finally catching up with the Young Knights. Nathan Brown admitted as much during his press conference as he talked about having 15 players unavailable and being beaten up last week by Melbourne Storm.
Brown said the side looked ‘tired’ and ‘didn’t look quite there’ which he pointed to the long hard season his side had been through and indicated some of his young players needed some time to rest.
Newcastle have one game remaining and it’s the last home game of the season which is celebrated as ‘Old Boys Day’ by the Knights. The 1997 Grand Final winning side will be having a reunion on the day so Newcastle can expect a big crowd, Brown spoke about the importance of trying to get the side ‘up’ one last time this year as Old Boys Day means a lot to the club, fans and former players.
Raiders 46 (Jordan Rapana 3, Junior Paulo, Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, Blake Austin tries; Jarrod Croker 9 goals) def. Knights 28 (Shaun Kenny-Dowall 2, Jamie Buhrer, Daniel Saifiti, Mitch Barnett tries; Trent Hodkinson 4 goals)