The Canberra Raiders have continued their impressive start to the season after comfortably beating the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.
The Canberra Raiders have once again proved they are contenders, although sloppy at times, the men in green did it fairly comfortable in warm conditions in Townsville. Canberra lead from start to finish, they started the game right on the front foot on the back of an impressive first set in attack lead the Cowboys to play their set from their own goal line and Raiders prop Ryan Sutton forced an error which gave them great field territory and a swift backline movement set up their first try through winger Nick Cotric. The next set after points, the Raiders crossed again through right winger Jordan Rapana after a fifth tackle play lead to a play down the short-side and centre Joey Leilua executed a grubber and with a soccer or two, the ball ended up in Rapana’s hands for an easy four pointer. They then added a penalty goal in the 25th minute through captain Jarrod Croker which put Canberra up 10-0. North Queensland responded soon after with Michael Morgan breaking through some flimsy defence and popped a pass to Gavin Cooper who crossed untouched. On the stroke of half-time ‘Leipana’ linked for a classic Canberra try which saw them lead 16-6 at half time.
The second half was very similar to the first half, Canberra added 2 more points to make it two converted tries the difference, then the Cowboys pegged back through John Asiata to cut the margin to 6 points with 20 minutes to play. It took them a while and after a pretty lacklustre half from the Raiders thus far, they found themselves pouncing a loose ball with Cotric sending Croker over and 5 minutes later, Rapana sealed the result after a fantastic offload from Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
Best Start Since 2005
Canberra fans, rejoice! It’s their best start to a campaign since 2005, with the Raiders starting the season 3-1, they seem to have found their mojo as well as finishing close games. The men from the Nation’s Capital have set themselves a nice platform the contest in the finals for the first time since 2016 and coach Ricky Stuart may finally have the key ingredients for a premiership push.
JT Causing Pain
The Cowboys, to put it plainly, have been awful to start the season. After a mammoth effort from enforcer Jason Taumalolo in round 1, where he ran for over 300 metres, it seemed like North Queensland were ready for life after Jonathan Thurston, however after a devastating knee injury to Taumalolo in round 2, things have not been easy. Taumalolo is not scheduled to return until at least round 10 and life without both iconic JT’s is proving to cause the Cowboys a plethora of pain.
Who would have thought that after 4 rounds of play, the Canberra Raiders would have had the competition’s second best defensive, only behind the methodical Melbourne Storm. It is a credit to coach Stuart who focused on defence in the pre-season and it’s paying dividends with the raiders only conceding on average 11 points per game, they must keep up their defensive intensity all season if they are to challenge for the Premiership this season.
Townsville a Happy Hunting Ground?
It is the second week in a row that a travelling team has thrashed the Cowboys on home-soil. It was once a fortress and one of the most feared places to go, however Townsville this season seems to be less of a fortress, North Queensland are 1-2 at home and will need to address their defensive issues and must learn that home wins are vital if they are to compete for a spot in the playoffs this season.
North Queensland Cowboys 12
Tries: Gavin Cooper, John Asiata
Goals: Jordan Kahu 2/2
Canberra Raiders 30
Tries: Jordan Rapana (2), Joey Leilua, Jarrod Croker, Nick Cotric
Goals: Jarrod Croker 5/7
Cowboys: 1. Te Marie Martin 2. Nene Macdonald 3. Jordan Kahu 4. Ben Hampton 5. Javid Bowen 6. Jake Clifford 7. Michael Morgan 8. Matthew Scott 9. Jake Granville 10. Jordan McLean 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Coen Hess 13. Josh McGuire 14. John Asiata 15. Corey Jensen 16. Mitchell Dunn 17. Francis Molo
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joey Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Sam Williams 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliot Whitehead 13. Ryan Sutton 14. Siliva Havili 15. Hudson Young 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Corey Horsburgh