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2021 NRL Round Two, Sharks 10 Raiders 12 – Report

Andrew Pelechaty reviews the Raiders’ “get out of jail” win over the Sharks. Here’s how the game went.

SCOREBOARD

Sharks 10

Tries: William Kennedy (54), Josh Dugan (72)

Goals: Chad Townsend (65)

Raiders 12

Tries: Sebastian Kris (23), Hudson Young (39)

Goals: George Williams (24, 40)

Player of the Year Points

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3 pts – Sebastian Kris (Canberra Raiders)
2 pts – George Williams (Canberra Raiders)
1 pt – Chad Townsend (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

MATCH REPORT

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1st Half

Both teams entered this game coming off round one wins: Canberra clicked into gear in the second half to comfortably beat the Wests Tigers, while the Sharks scored five tries to shake off a determined Dragons side.

Canberra had form behind them, winning their last four games against the Sharks, including the ‘Baby Raiders’ win at Kogarah, and the Qualifying Final win last year. However, all of these games were close, and a similarly tight game was expected tonight.

Canberra had the first decent attacking raids, helped by repeat sets, as they aimed to start faster than last week against the Tigers.

Cronulla looked like breaking the Raiders’ dominance with a fast break off a Jack Wighton grubber, but an error cruelled their chances and Canberra were quickly in attacking territory again.

Despite the bulk of the ball, Canberra’s attack looked a little stop-start, perhaps owing to the wet conditions.

Canberra kept the pressure on with their strong defense, forcing more goal-line drop outs.

The Milk finally broke through in the 23rd minute when Sebastian Kris received a George Williams pass and barged over. Williams converted for a 6-0 lead.

The back-and-forth continued for the first half: Canberra’s defense repelled any of the Sharks’ chances, while Canberra kept peppering the Sharks’ defense: the Milk were prepared to be patient and play the long game.

That patience paid off, with Hudson Young scoring right on halftime. Curtis Scott recovered a loose ball from the Sharks, then the Raiders marched downfield before Young went over off a Josh Hodgson short ball. Williams converted again for a 12-0 lead. Canberra’s 63% possession rate, and 86% completion rate, reflected their first half dominance.

HALF-TIME: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0 Canberra Raiders 12

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2nd Half

The Sharks started the second half badly with a lost ball in their own territory, gifting Canberra prime attacking position. Jack Wighton was close to scoring, but was stripped; Canberra got the penalty, but Wighton dropped the ball in the next set. Again, a Sharks mistake meant they couldn’t take advantage.

Canberra got another prime attacking chance when Williams grubbered close to the try line, but Matt Moylan knocked on. Again, a Wighton error meant Canberra couldn’t advance, but the Sharks lost the ball in kind.

Canberra nearly scored again through Jordan Rapana, but he fell short of the tryline.

Canberra made a crucial error when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad had a rare drop close to his line, giving Cronulla their first decent attacking chance of the half, where they then forced two goal-line drop outs.

The Sharks broke through when William Kennedy scored off a Chad Townsend grubber, but Townsend missed the conversion.

Again, Canberra gave the Sharks a big chance when Whitehead knocked the ball on after Rapana accidently knocked the ball out of Whitehead’s hands. After a short break when Wighton got bowled over, Canberra were able to survive in defense and get the ball back.

Canberra Captains Challenged a knock on ruling against Bailey Simonsson. It was more of a tactical challenge though, as Canberra needed a rest.

The Sharks got a penalty when Toby Rudolf was tackled without the ball by Young. This time Townsend got the goal, reducing Canberra’s lead to 12-6 with 15 minutes left.

Young offended again with another penalty as the Sharks got another attacking chance, but Canberra’s defense held: a huge let off for the Raiders.

While Canberra’s completing rate started going south, their defense kept holding firm.

Frustrations boiled over with a sudden scrap after a knock on by Young, which turned into a penalty against Scott. This game continued the recent Sharks vs Raiders tradition of being tight and fiery.

Cronulla had a scoring chance off a Townsend bomb: Simonsson and Ronaldo Mulitalo went for the ball and former Raider Josh Dugan grounded it for a try. Townsend’s conversion missed, keeping Canberra’s lead to 12-10 with six minutes left.

Canberra’s defense held on as the Sharks spread the ball to the left, but he Sharks Captains Challenged it. The Challenge was successful and the Sharks got a penalty for a tackle off the ball. Townsend took the penalty goal but missed it to the left. Cronulla tried for a two-point field goal off the drop out, but it was nowhere near.

After dominating the first half and looking like comfortable winners, the Raiders would count themselves lucky to leave Kogarah with two points after a scoreless second half, while the Sharks would rue the missed goals.

FULL-TIME: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 10 Canberra Raiders 12

Injuries

to be advised

Match Review Committee

to be advised

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