Canberra Raiders 18
Tries: Josh McCrone, Paul Vaughan, Reece Robinson
Goals: Jarrod Croker 3/3
New Zealand Warriors 54
Tries: Manu Vatuvei 3, Sam Rapira 2, Ngani Laumape, Sione Lousi, Sam Tomkins, Konrad Hurrell, Ben Matulino
Goals: Chad Townsend 7/10
The game started half-decent for the Raiders as they held up their domino-like defensive structure for most of the first quarter. At the 25th minute mark, the Raiders were 10-0 down with tries to Sam Tomkins and Sione Aloisi but the Raiders were still in the game as they regained a large amount of possession through penalties. This allowed them to dawdle inside the Warriors half as their poor attacking flair slowly wore down.
Key playmakers Anthony Milford, Josh McCrone and Jarrod Croker were nowhere to be seen and when Konrad Hurrell burst through the defence in the 27th minute, the tides had turned and so they stayed.
In the 31st minute, Warriors forward Ben Matulino burst over the line after the Kiwi’s took the lead in the possession game. Soon after, a stunning pass from Feleti Mateo to Sam Rapira gave the Warriors more than a winning edge to enter the changing rooms with. At half time the score stood 28-0 and Jarrod Croker had kicked 4/5.
Raiders lock Shaun Fensom and Warriors center Konrad Hurrell both left the field in the first half and stayed off for the remainder of the match. Within the first 5 minutes of the second half the Warriors were back on the scoreboard when Sam Rapira scored his second of the game from right in the middle of the posts.
Winger Manu Vatuvei took a surprising 53 minutes to claim 4 points for the New Zealand side but when it happened he didn’t disappoint. He scored his first of three tries when a brilliant high-kick taken from across the field landed in the Aucklander’s hands right beside the corner posts. Chad Townsend was unable to convert and gained a 75% conversion rate.
In the 57th minute, a 10m across-field pass from Tuimoala Lolohea to Ngani Laumape resulted in a brilliant try to the New Zealand side that ultimately christened the first hour of the game they had experienced. Almost immediately, Manu Vatuvei jumped at the sight of a gap in the poor Canberra defence and put the Kiwi’s just two numbers away from a much-anticipated 50 points.
Just to add to the humiliation of the home side, Manu Vatuvei claimed a hat trick just 4 minutes later in the exact same portion of the field he had scored in earlier. Chad Townsend finished the scoring rampage with 7/10 in his conversions.
Within the last 5 minutes, a desperate attempt to restore dignity saw incredible acts of brilliance from Josh McCrone and Paul Vaughan that resulted in tries. With one minute to go, a brilliant grubber kick from Glen Buttriss and a classy put down from Reece Robinson saw the Raiders sneak away with 18.
Among the acts of attacking brilliance the New Zealand Warriors presented there were many acts of brilliance they showed within their own half. They are a well-rounded team and if they prove themselves in the big games against the Roosters and Panthers, they are without a doubt headed for the top four.
The Raiders; suddenly switching on within the final minutes of a game is pretty unacceptable, it’s obvious there needs to be a change within the club.