The Canberra Raiders have held off a second half fight back from the Wests Tigers to secure a hard-fought 20-12 victory in the nation’s capital.
On the weekend of the 30-year 1989 Grand Final reunion, the Raiders came out firing. Josh Hodgson put Dunamis Lui over under the posts just a few minutes into the game to open the scoring. Not long after this, they scored their second try when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad grounded an Aiden Sezer kick inside the dead ball line. The Tigers were able to change the momentum after getting some good field position and a few repeat sets. As a result of sustained pressure, Josh Aloiai crashed over under the posts to cut the lead to six.
Off the next kick off, the Tiger made an error to hand the Raiders very good field position. As a result, they made the Tigers pay when Aiden Sezer threw an excellent cut-out pass for Jordan Rapana to score in the corner. Again, the Tigers were their own worst enemy as they gave away a penalty on the Raiders’ next attacking raid. Things didn’t get any easier for the visitors, losing both Matt Eisenhuth and Thomas Mikaele to HIAs after nasty friendly-fire head clash. Despite these losses, the Raiders were not able to capitalise further and went into the break up 20-6.
The second half started much better for the visitors. They were able to find the try line early through David Nofoaluma to cut the lead back to eight points. While it looked as though they were going to score again on several occasions, the defense from the Raiders stood firm and held out every challenge the Tigers threw at them. The rest of the half descended into an arm-wrestle with both teams exchanging set for set through the middle of the field. Neither team could find enough polish to cross the try line however, and the strong Raiders defense proved to be too much for the Tigers. The home side would go on to hold their eight point lead until fulltime, eventually running out 20-12 winners.
Old Raiders inspire new Raiders to strong start
This weekend marked the 30-year reunion of the memorable 1989 Grand Final where the Raiders came out victorious over the then Balmain Tigers. Many of the legends from that team were on hand to see the Raiders jump out to an early 12 point lead. Coach Ricky Stuart (who played in the ’89 Grand Final) would’ve had this as a priority coming into this game, knowing the importance that ’89 team has to the history of the club. 30 years after their first premiership, will this year be the year of the Raider?
Canberra flex defensive muscle
The Raiders of the past have been known for blowing teams off the field with their potent attacking football. This year they are doing the damage when they don’t have the football, which is why they now sit firmly inside the top four. Throughout this game, the Tigers were not able to get a clean grubber kick through the Raiders defense without it being trapped or dived on. On top of this, they absorbed plenty of pressure with the Tigers having much of the better field position in the second half.
Terrible Tigers their own worst enemy
Michael Maguire would not be a happy coach after watching that performance from his team. They looked disjointed and out of sorts all night and came up with plenty of uncharacteristic errors. Some of which were almost embarrassing. As a result, their fans would be immensely frustrated thinking what could have been if they had only held the football in some crucial moments. To make matters worse, they were very unlucky to lose Matt Eisenhuth and Thomas Mikaele for a large chunk of the game to HIA.
Tame Tigers missing teeth without Thompson?
Corey Thompson has been the Tigers best since moving to fullback a few weeks ago. It was evident they were missing the spark from him at the start of their sets and in their attacking structure. This turned into desperation to score points, which got the better of the Tigers in many crucial moments. They will be hoping Thompson can return from injury next week as they now find themselves in 13th position on the ladder, quickly losing touch with the top eight and finals football.
Canberra Raiders 20
Tries: Lui, Nicoll-Klokstad, Rapana
Goals: Croker 4/4
Drop Goals: n/a
Wests Tigers 12
Tries: Aloiai, Nofoaluma
Goals: Mbye 2/2
Drop Goals: n/a
Canberra Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Bailey Simonsson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Michael Oldfield 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Aidan Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Dunamis Lui 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine 14. Siliva Havili 15. Corey Horsburgh 16. Iosia Soliola 17. Emre Guler
Wests Tigers: 3. Moses Mbye 2. Paul Momirovski 17. Michael Chee-Kam 4. Esan Marsters 5. David Nofoaluma 6. Benji Marshall 7. Luke Brooks 8. Josh Aloiai 9. Robbie Farah 10. Alex Twal 11. Ryan Matterson 12. Chris Lawrence 13. Matt Eisenhuth 14. Jacob Liddle 15. Thomas Mikaele 16. Elijah Taylor 20. Luke Garner