The Canberra Raiders have joined the Melbourne Storm, Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs at the summit of the NRL ladder.
The Canberra Raiders have scraped past the Brisbane Broncos 26-22 in a bruising affair at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
In a match with plenty on the line for both sides respectively, the Broncos needed a win to improve their record to get themselves off the foot of the table, while a Raiders win would mean they share the lead of the competition after Round 6.
Canberra scored just after six minutes through winger Nick Cotric, but Brisbane were quick to respond via halfback Kodi Nikorima. The game was an arm-wrestle before a Joey Leilua double in the space of four minutes put Canberra ahead 14-4 at the break.
Brisbane needed to be first to score in the second half and that they did, David Fifita went in untouched after a breakdown of Canberra’s left edge, minutes later they crossed again and crossed again through Corey Oates after a beautiful grubber from Anthony Milford, Jamayne Isaako put them in the lead with a kick from the sideline.
Canberra looked tired, however Jack Wighton kicked a 40/20 which lead to Englishman John Bateman crashing over to give the green machine the lead again and in quick succession, Bateman’s fellow countryman Ryan Sutton scored after an assist off the head of Jack Wighton.
With time running out and down by 10, Brisbane clawed the margin back down to 4 after Jack Bird scored an easy try, this set up one final set for the Broncos to muster up a miracle, however Canberra held on for gutsy 4 point victory.
Raiders of old
Canberra have started off the season 5-1, their best start since 2003, in that year they finished inside the top 4. The Raiders are bringing their best this year, their defence is brutal and they can score from anywhere, they are looking like real contenders… however they must remain consistent if they are to break their 25 year premiership drought.
It’s their worst start this century, rooted to the bottom of the table and not looking likely to finish inside the top 8 this season, it’s a fall from grace as many pundits had Brisbane inside their top 4 at the start of the season. Coach Anthony Seibold has persisted with the same squad during this slump, however look for Seibold to make some huge changes to kick start the Broncos season.
Buy(s) of the year
John Bateman has been an absolute stud since his arrival from the Wigan Warriors, he was massive for the Raiders on Sunday, scoring one and setting up another… but it has not only been Bateman who has made a difference, fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and another former Wigan boy Ryan Sutton have proved to be incredible buys for the Raiders, they have all added a different element to an elusive Raiders team and they all must be commended for the way they’ve entered the Capital.
Their spine has been under the microscope all year, both halves Kodi Nikorima and Anthony Milford actually played quite well yesterday, while fullback Darius Boyd had one of his better games this season, however it still does not appear to be working. Coach Seibold has persisted with his spine all season, but now it’s time to make changes and young halfback Sean O’Sullivan may be just what’s needed to organise proceedings.
Canberra Raiders 26
Tries: Nick Cotric, Joey Leilua (2), John Bateman, Ryan Sutton
Goals: Jarrod Croker 3/5
Brisbane Broncos 22
Tries: Kodi Nikorima, David Fifita, Corey Oates, Jack Bird
Goals: Jamayne Isaako 3/4
Canberra 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 INTERCHANGE: 14. Siliva Havili 15. Hudson Young 16. Iosia Soliola 17. JJ Collins
Brisbane Broncos: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Corey Oates 3. Kotoni Staggs 4. Jack Bird 5. Jamayne Isaako 6. Anthony Milford 7. Kodi Nikorima 8. Payne Haas 9. Andrew McCullough 10. Joe Ofahengaue 11. Alex Glenn 12. Matt Gillett 16. INTERCHANGE: Thomas Flegler 13. David Fifita 15. Jayden Su’A 17. Patrick Carrigan 20. James Roberts