The Raiders have defeated the Rabbitohs by six points to move into the Grand Final.
The Canberra Raiders have qualified for their first grand final in 25 years after they defeated the South Sydney Rabbitohs by 6 points in front of a record crowd at GIO Stadium. About 27,000 people packed into GIO to see their beloved Raiders and treated the players to a Viking Clap for the ages. The Raiders looked ready to battle as they ran out and were up for the task as captain Jarrod Croker scored the opening try after a tackle from Josh Hodgson dislodged the ball from Adam Doueihi’s grasp, and the captain pounced on the loose ball. As both teams settled into the game, it looked like the Raiders were the more threatening side until Dane Gagai scored for the visitors after 28 minutes with a simple play down the right side of the field. The Raiders just simply didn’t number up in an unusual lapse in defence. The score was level at the break at six apiece with the Rabbitohs hanging in the contest.
The second half started perfectly for the home side as Jack Wighton fumbled the football but managed to think quickly, getting his boot to the ball just before it hit the ground as he chased onto his own kick to score in the left corner and give Canberra a four-point lead. From here it was all the Rabbitohs. They had the Raiders pinned down on their own try line as they forced repeat set after repeat set. The Raiders showed their strength in defence as they held the Rabbitohs out during this period, and showed to everyone why they deserve a spot at ANZ Stadium next Sunday. Despite Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad being sin binned with 10 minutes to go for a professional foul, Raiders big man – and arguably the best on ground -Josh Papalii scored what would be the winning try for the home side as he shrugged off Damien Cook to score under the posts. The Raiders survived a late scare when Campbell Graham scored a try in the last minute to get the away side back within a converted try, but it was too little too late as the Raiders took home the chocolates.
Josh Papalii Heroics
Josh Papalii was arguably the best on ground tonight and has been one of the best prop forwards in the competition this season. The Queenslander played a monster 71 minutes including a 51-minute opening stint as he ran for 179 metres, including 58 post contact metres, completed 35 tackles and most importantly scored the match-winning try.
The Canberra Raiders’ Grand Final Drought is Over
The Canberra Raiders will compete in their sixth grand final next weekend. It’s their first since their 1994 victory against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs. The Raiders played in 5 grand finals spanning from 1987 to 1994, but have failed to make one in the 25 years since. It will be an emotional week for all Raiders supporters.
Cody Walker the Last Standing Rabbitoh
Cody Walker turned his recent struggles around, rediscovered his form from earlier in the season and was the most threatening Rabbitoh by tenfold. The five-eighth ran for 124 metres, including 2 line breaks, whilst also being responsible for 2 repeat sets.
Souths’ Defensive Struggles
South Sydney’s forward pack struggled defensively tonight as their starting pack missed a total of 21 tackles, including 7 from Sam Burgess himself. Their forward pack also coughed up five errors, which was always going to make it hard for the Rabbitohs to dominate the game from the get go.
Canberra Raiders 16
Tries: Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii
Goals: Croker 2/4
Drop Goals: n/a
South Sydney Rabbitohs 10
Tries: Dane Gagai, Campbell Graham
Goals: Adam Reynolds 1/2
Drop Goals: n/a
Canberra Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2. Nick Cotric 3. Jarrod Croker (c) 4. Joseph Leilua 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Jack Wighton 7. Adian Sezer 8. Josh Papalii 9. Josh Hodgson 10. Iosia Soliola 11. John Bateman 12. Elliott Whitehead 13. Joseph Tapine. Interchange: 14. Bailey Simonsson 15. Emre Guler 16. Corey Horsburgh 17. Dunamis Lui.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1. Adam Doueihi 2. Alex Johnston 5. Campbell Graham 4. Dane Gagai 19. Corey Allan 6. Cody Walker 7. Adam Reynolds 12. Sam Burgess (c) 9. Damien Cook 10. Liam Knight 11. John Suttom 16. Ethan Lowe 13. Cameron Murray. Interchange: 8. Thomas Burgess 15. Tevita Tatola 17. Mark Nicholls 20. Dean Britt.