Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
2 days ago
The Raiders fight for the finals continues as they have demolished the Sharks 30-12 tonight in the Shire.
The swagger is back in the green machine, they put on strong first half performance crossing three times and despite being reduced to ten men, Canberra held Cronulla comfortably as the Raiders shoot to within two points of the top eight.
Much like last week, when the Raiders are on, they are hard to stop. In a 25 minute period after the Sharks went 8-nil up, thanks to a Sosaia Feki try. The visitors welcomed back Jordan Rapana with a brace and a slicing effort from English hooker, Josh Hodgson gave them a commanding 24-8 lead at the break.
While the flashy football will get the headlines, the Raiders, who have lost in spectacular fashion this season, played smart football in the second half to protect their lead while Josh Papalii was in the sin-bin for a professional foul. Jarrod Croker nailed three penalty goals during the ten minute span.
The centre had a party with the boot tonight, as he kicked another penalty goal in the first half and three conversion making for a 14-point haul for the centre. It seemed that the Raiders knew they could overpower the premiers and their control with the ball showed that - which will please coach Ricky Stuart who has been at his wits ends at points this season.
At times it looked like the premiers thought they could waltz their way to the win, especially as they shot to an eight-point lead but a determined Raiders defense held the forward pack which limited the opportunities for their backline. Only when the Raiders got ill-disciplined with the ball it allowed Valentine Holmes and Jack Bird to combine for Gerard Beale to find the only try of the second half.
There was further bad news for the premiers, as Brisbane-bound Jack Bird reinjured his shoulder in the final ten minutes that will hamper their finals preparations. Not to mention a tough run-in which starts with Bird's new employers Brisbane Broncos, next weekend up at Suncorp Stadium.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 12 - Canberra Raiders 30
Venue: Southern Cross Group Stadium
Halftime Score: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 8 Canberra Raiders 24
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Hodgson
2 points - Jordan Rapana
1 points - Junior Paulo
CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS (12)
Tries: Sosaia Feki, Gerard Beale
Conversions: Valentine Holmes (1/2)
Penalty Goals: Valentine Holmes (1/1)
CANBERRA RAIDERS (30)
Tries: Josh Papalii, Jordan Rapana (2), Josh Hodgson
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (3/4)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (4/4)