Raiders hold onto an impressive start to win a nail-biting finish over the Sharks 22-20 in Canberra.
A close encounter was always on the cards for this match with the score coming down to just a converted penalty kick in the dying stages to allow Canberra the win. Within only the starting minutes there were plenty of penalties to the Sharks with a count of five to one in favour of Raiders who pulled the pin on the possession to score twenty points through Jarrod Croker, Aidan Sezer and Bailey Simmonsson. The fixing of their defence and willing to hold their line to stop the onslaught, Sharks fought to then pick up two tries in quite easy fashion within just a couple of visits down their oppositions end to have scores 20-8 at half time.
The attitude changed for the Sharks with lovely shape in attack at the start of the second half with Braden Hamlin-Uele slipping through a well-placed pass against the grain by Chad Townsend, to then go within a converted try at 20-14. The halves of Cronulla were back into the groove with Shaun Johnson’s first game back after injury it was another shift to their right allowing Josh Dugan to grab his second try being an untouched scorer. The match closed right up with an end to end defence and attack, the Raiders at home lifted in their set plays which allowed a penalty conversion to get them the win off the back of great kicking after multiple efforts forcing dropouts to the Sharks.
Raiders Grind In Thriller
The Green machine was outstanding once again with another defensive effort to stop the fast-finishing Sharks. It was a 20 to 8 point lead at half time with much of the early domination by Raiders wearing off on their opponents, who looked to be firing in the match come to the back end of the first half. In the second stanza, it was all polished set plays and cleaning up their discipline which saw Sharks score four tries but fall short at the end with Canberra choking out the visitors with their well-known defence and receiving a 62nd-minute penalty to eventually help in winning the match.
It was all the Raiders in the opening quarter of the fixture ploughing on twenty unanswered points. A slow start by the Cronulla side in the nation’s capital allowed in three tries with soft penalties and defence making it a tough ask to return, Sharks conceded five penalties to none for the home side which was the ill-discipline and ultimately cost them the match. It was ongoing traffic for the majority of the first half to Raiders down their oppositions end having it look like Sharks were in two ways about getting out of trouble early while Canberra piled the points on.
A debutant in Game l Origin this season, winger come centre Nick Cotric was found in a terrible position with his ankle caught in a tackle. A selection in the second game of the Origin series was likely for Cotric, however, with what looks to be a nasty ankle injury he could be out for some time. The tackler and also potential blues bolter in Wade Graham stood on his foot awkwardly in the second half to see him come off the field. Brad Fittler’s hand will likely be forced now to select a different winger for his must-win match in Perth in just over a week.
All the footy played down their end at the start of this blockbuster match it was ominous signs to whether the Sharks had it in them to come from behind and win it. A fierce fight back late in the first half had them rolling up the field to collect two tries before the break with a real clean-up around their penalties and errors it looked like the comeback was on. A try just after the halftime break saw the scores come within a converted try at 20-14, however, with Josh Dugan’s second try in the 53rd minute it was all the Raiders then on, closing out the game defensively, not allowing anything for the visitors to work off with the start of the Sharks biting them in the back at the end.
Tries: Sezer, Simonsson, Croker
Goals: Croker 5/5
Tries: Dugan (2), Morris, Hamlin-Uele
Goals: Johnson 2/4
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Nick Cotric 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Siliva Havili 17. Ryan Sutton 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine Interchange: 10. Dunamis Lui 14. Tom Starling 15. Emre Guler 16. Sia Soliola
Sharks: 1. Matt Moylan 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Bronson Xerri 4. Josh Morris 5. Josh Dugan 21. Shaun Johnson 7. Chad Townsend 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Blayke Brailey 10. Matt Prior 11. Briton Nikora 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Paul Gallen Interchange: 14. Wade Graham 15. Jayson Bukuya 16. Jack Williams 17. Braden Hamlin-Uele