Josh Hodgson does it all on his own
Josh Hodgson re-established himself as one of the leading Dally M contenders with an absolutely stellar performance against the ladder leading Sharks. His craftiness out of dummy half saw him tear their defence to shreds. A well timed run from his teams 30m line exploiting poor marker defence saw him race up field to the Sharks 20 and put in a grubber on the run for Jordan Rapana to claim his second try.
He also set up a try for Jack Wighton with a simple pass on the short side allowing Wighton to barge over the line. Hodgson finished the game with 125 running metres, 2 try assists, 40 tackles, 6 tackle busts and a line break. He has been a remarkable purchase for the Raiders and will continue to play an important factor in the Raiders run to the finals.
No Mick Ennis no direction
Michael Ennis was ruled out pre-game with a virus and his absence at dummy half hindered their chances from the start. Matt McIllwick and Fa’amanu Brown did their best to fill the void but the experience and creativity that Ennis provides to the team just couldn’t be matched. Without his kicking game, his link with the forwards and his defensive organization the Sharks attack suffered. They may not have won the game even if he had played but it’s an example of how crucial the role of hooker can be given the influence Hodgson had on the game for the Raiders.
Bunker Controversy again
After Blake Austin made a break from 30 metres out and charged towards the try-line he was cut down just short before he lunged over the line to put the ball down. It appeared in regular speed that momentum had carried him over but upon video review it looked like he promoted the ball and made a second effort in the process of scoring. The on-field decision was no-try but the bunker overruled and determined the Sharks players had advanced Austin over the line. Given the controversial no-try ruling of Herman Ese’ese against the Roosters last week it sparked another debate about the consistency and effectiveness of the bunker.
Regardless of whether the call was correct or if it was in fact completely wrong you can be assured referees boss Tony Archer will make a statement saying he is happy with the decisions and process.
Raiders firm for Top 4 finish
The Canberra Raiders went a long way towards entrenching themselves as a Top 4 side gifting the Sharks their first loss since Round 3 and only their third loss of the season. As strong as they were in attack, they also aimed up in defence which has always been problematic for the Raiders in seasons past. Coach Ricky Stuart has weathered the initial criticism of his first few years to build a top quality side that will play finals footy for the first time since 2012.
Their run home includes a clash with the ladder leading Melbourne Storm as well as the Eels, Sea Eagles and the Tigers. Next week will be the biggest test of their season and premiership credentials they’ll have all year. If they can win that game then not only will they likely secure a Top 4 spot but they’ll also prove themselves to be genuine contenders to win the whole competition.
In The Sheds
Blake Austin came off the field with a shoulder injury that occurred in the process of scoring a try. Initial diagnosis post-game was it was mostly precautionary and he should be fine.
Canberra Raiders– 30
Tries: Jordan Rapana (11m, 26m), Jack Wighton (23m), Blake Austin (59m)
Goals: Jarrod Croker 7/7
Cronulla Sharks– 14
Tries: James Maloney (17m), Paul Gallen (55m)
Goals: James Maloney 3/3
|Southern Cross Group Stadium|
|455 Captain Cook Dr, Woolooware NSW 2230, Australia|