Mitch Bourke reviews Canberra’s courageous win over South Sydney. Here’s how the game went.
|6th||Try Nick Cotric (Raiders)||Raiders 4-0|
|13th||Try Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 8-0|
|15th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 10-0|
|21st||Try Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs)||Raiders 10-4|
|22nd||Goal Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)||Raiders 10-6|
|24th||Try Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)||Scores tied 10-10|
|26th||Goal Adam Reynolds (Rabbitohs)||Rabbitohs 12-10|
|47th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Scores Tied 12-12|
|56th||Try Semi Valemei (Raiders)||Raiders 16-12|
|57th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 18-12|
It was Nick Cotric who opened the scoring for Canberra with a brilliant piece of work in the sixth minute. Jack Wighton placed his chip on a dime and Jordan Rapana did enough in the contest to knock the ball backwards. Cotric retreated to the 10-metre line to retrieve the deflection off his own head, shrugged off Dane Gagai as he turned and set his sights on the right corner, flying in to give Canberra a 4-0 lead.
Setting the tone for their night, Souths missed two early chances and Canberra made them pay, doubling up to stretch the lead to 10. A big 40-metre run from Jarrod Croker had the Raiders on the front foot, and the ensuing Set Restart and penalty made sure pressure was firmly applied to the Rabbitohs’ defence.
A Jack Wighton kick was destined to go dead, but Adam Reynolds stuck out a fateful paw that altered the course of the play. The ball was now live and loose and Croker pounced, scooping it up and throwing himself over a sliding Jaxson Paulo into the in-goal.
A lengthy Rabbitohs passing chain filled with quick hands that was simply poetry in motion put Dane Gagai over in the 21st minute, who couldn’t be stopped by Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Josh Papalii.
Minutes later the Rabbitohs struck again, this time Adam Reynolds scoring off the back of a double Set Restart. Reynolds passed to Jaydn Su’A and then followed up on the inside to get it back and tumble into the in-goal, where he quickly bounced up and scurried and behind the posts to make his conversion job easier.
A late shot on Jack Wighton allowed Jarrod Croker to tie things up with a penalty goal in the 46th minute.
Injury carnage followed after Raiders fullback Nicoll-Klokstad was forced out of the game with a nasty looking compound fracture in his finger. This meant both sides were left without their starting fullback: Alex Johnston was ruled out in the first half after failing his HIA.
A penalty let Canberra get on the attack, and an unlucky deflection found its way to Semi Valemei to give the Raiders an 18-12 lead, and ultimately the win.
Neither side was able to build real momentum late in the game, with errors (Canberra 14, Souths 11) contributing to the almost constant change of possession.
Some bruising runs and an outstretched arm that fell millimetres short from Thomas Burgess kept some hope alive for the Rabbitohs, but it wasn’t to be. Stand-in Canberra fullback Jordan Rapana laid a certain try saver on Adam Reynolds, pulling him back from the in-goal in what was the most promising of South Sydney’s second half sets.
South Sydney left plenty to be desired in attack, in what wasn’t an overly convincing display from the supposed premiership contenders who have now fallen out of the eight, and cost themselves two valuable premiership points. They face the Dragons next week in what is simply a must-win clash.
For Canberra, they couldn’t have asked for a better showing. Nicoll-Klokstad went off injured, and stand-in fullback Rapana was forced from the field with a HIA in the final eight minutes. Still, they clung on for gritty and courageous victory, outlining their strong character and inching closer to a top four berth. They come up against a struggling 3-8 Cowboys outfit next week.
There’s no better way to open your NRL try-scoring account than with a match-winner, which is exactly what Semi Valemei did. Elliott Whitehead looked to stab in a close range grubber from dummy half, which was met by an outstretched boot from Campbell Graham. In a case of right-time right-place, the ball landed in Valemei’s lap and he reacted quickly, scoring in the left corner.
Canberra Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Jordan Rapana, 5. Semi Valemei, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Siliva Havili, 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Hudson Young, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Kai O’Donnell. Interchange: 14. Tom Starling, 15. Joseph Tapine, 16. Ryan Sutton, 17. Harley Smith-Shields.
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 1. Alex Johnston, 2. Corey Allan, 3. Campbell Graham, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Jaxson Paulo, 6. Cody Walker, 7. Adam Reynolds, 8. Tevita Tatola, 9. Damien Cook, 10. Thomas Burgess, 11. Jaydn Su’A, 12. Bayley Sironen, 13. Cameron Murray. Interchange: 14. Mark Nicholls, 15. Hame Sele, 17. Jack Johns, 19. Keaon Koloamatangi