Canberra have recorded their first win of 2014 in a see-saw 26-20 victory over Newcastle in front of 14,674 at Hunter Stadium tonight.
After both sides were first start losers in round 1, Newcastle and Canberra were looking to rectify this and get their name on to the winners sheet for the first time in 2014. It showed in the play, as both teams were more eager to attack rather than defend throughout the contest.
Raiders were fast starters up in North Queensland last week and continued that trend this week in the 7th minute forcing a line drop out then Jack Wighton and Jarrod Croker combined for the centre to scorch past three defenders on his way to the try-line from the five eighth's grubber. Anthony Milford converted to put them six ahead.
Conceding a try didn't push Newcastle back into their shell they went the other way spreading the ball wide to give their wide men time to crack the line. Uate relished in this space provided after the defense was stretched - he eyed off the try-line challenging Edrick Lee to a foot race but there was only one winner Uate.
Newcastle continued their positive intent despite the repeated lapses of being offside. A nice short ball found Beau Scott who powered through the defensive line, weaved inside and out before stumbling to the try-line. His effort giving Newcastle a 10-6 lead following a Kurt Gidley conversion.
Canberra underined the narrative for the final hour of the contest as they exploited the previously mentioned lax defense of the Knights with Josh McCrone turning a simple dart from the play-the-ball into a try after the markers weren't able to catch him. The rest of the half descended into an error fest leaving us locked at 10 a piece at the interval thanks to McCrone's try.
The second half resembled a playground see-saw with how often the momentum changed between the two sides. Canberra with the first salvo in the 53rd minute with Jarrod Croker bagging his second. The credit should go to fullback Anthony Milford who was central to the Raiders victory as he prised open the Knights defense time and again.
The response was swift and slightly fortitutious for the home side as the Raiders back three combined to produce a comedy moment straight from the three stooges including a rebound that fell right into the hands of James McManus to fall over for the try and lock the game up again at 16 points all.
Good things come in twos, so did the Newcastle tries tonight as right after McManus touched down the Hunter faithful were celebrating again when Tyrone Roberts crossed. It came from a Joseph Leilua offload that Roberts powered through the gap and wouldn;t be stopped until he made it to the try-line. Gidley hooked the conversion and it was 20-16 Newcastle with 13 left to play.
Milford proved why Brisbane were so keen on bringing him into the fold with his pace and stepping ability which troubled Newcastle all through the night. He stepped left then right before getting into open space trying to position Croker who offloaded to the unlikely support man Paul Vaughan to sneak the Raiders ahead 22-20.
They put the game beyond doubt just before the final siren as Edrick Lee was the receipent of a gift when debutant Matt Minto spilled a ball right on his line so it was a simple catch and pass for the winger to stroll in. Raiders were off the mark for 2014 while Newcastle slump to zero for two with a visit to Melbourne looming.