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The Canberra Raiders have recorded their second successive victory to get their 2004 premiership campaign back on track. The Raiders defeated a gallant but ill-disciplined Tigers outfit 32-24 at a freezing Canberra Stadium this evening.
The Tigers found themselves on the end of a penalty hiding courtesy of referee Shayne Hayne but to be fair to Hayne, the Tigers were pushing the envelope all night and paid the price for their continuous indiscretions.
The Raiders are in a battle with the Newcastle Knights for a spot in the top eight and they should have won by a lot more tonight but their Raiders simplistic game plan is starting have the 2003 look about it.
The Tigers are slowly slipping down the ladder and one or two more losses will see the Tigers out of finals contention after such a solid start to the year and that is disappointing for Tigers fans who thought 2004 could be the year they cracked a finals berth for the first time since their inception.
Best for the Raiders were Jason Croker, who had a powerhouse game, breaking tackles at will and Croker was well supported all evening by Adam Mogg, who is having an outstanding season and is starting to bag himself a few tries for his trouble. Matt Gafa also had a good game at five eighth bagging a tidy sixteen points through a try and six goals.
Youngsters Todd Carney and Alan Rothery also had impressive games off the bench but the major talking point will be the ankle injury suffered by Phil Graham. Graham was having a fine game until injuring his ankle in the 55th minute of the match.
For the Tigers, Brett Hodgson, Pat Richards and Mark O?Neill all tried in vein to get the Tigers home but he lack of a class halfback and five eighth is starting to tell on the Tigers and their relative lack of speed out wide is also something the Tigers must address over the off-season if they are to make a serious assault on the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Scorers: RAIDERS 32 Tries: Graham, Thompson, McLinden, Mogg, Gafa. Goals: Gafa 6/8 defeated WESTS TIGERS 24 Tries: Payten, Richards, Hodgson, O'Neill. Goals: Hodgson 4/4.
By the clock: 1st min: Kickoff! It's a freezing night in Canberra but hopefully we can see some open football.
5th min: TRY - Tigers. Todd Payten scores the Tigers first try in over 160 minutes of football after Adam Mogg lost the ball in the tackle, giving Payten an easy run to the line. Canberra are yet to complete a set of six. Conversion successful. Tigers 6-0.
13th min: TRY - Raiders. Phil Graham crosses in the corner after Raiders converted some sustained pressure into points. Conversion unsuccessful. Tigers 6-4.
20th min: TRY - Raiders. Troy Thompson crosses the Tigers line with consumate ease after the Tiger gave away their fifth penalty for ill disciplined play. Conversion successful. Raiders 10-6.
25th min: TRY - Raiders. Mark McLidnen takes an intercept and races 50 metres to score a super solo try for the Raiders. Conversion successful. Raiders 16-6.
27th min: TRY - Tigers. Pat Richards grounds a grubber a milisecond before Clinton Schifcofske could get there. Conversion successful. Raiders 16-12.
HALF TIME: The Raiders have had all the possession thanks to a 7-1 penalty count but considering they are only four points in front, the Tigers would be pleased to be still in the match.
41st min: The second half is underway. What lies ahead over the next forty minutes? Can the Raiders win back to back games for the first time in months or will the Tigers spoil the party?
46th min: PENALTY GOAL - Raiders. Matt Gafa edges the Raiders ahead to lead by a converted try. Raiders 18-12.
47th min: TRY - Raiders. From the ensuing kickoff Jason Croker makes a break and sends Adam Mogg on a sixty metre run to the line to blow the game wide open. Conversion successful. Raiders 24-12.
NEWS: Phil Graham looks to have suffered a serious ankle injury as he fell awkwardly in the tackle. The trainers are assessing the situation as we speak.
55th min: PENALTY GOAL - Raiders. Matt Gafa moves the Raiders into a lead that would take some beating in the last twenty minutes. Raiders 26-12.
59th min: TRY - Raiders. Matt Gafa continues his impressive form with a try in the corner that will ultimately win the match for the Raiders and keep them in the top eight. Conversion unsuccessful. Raiders 30-12.
65th min: TRY - Tigers. Brett Hodgson scores adjacent to the posts to give the Tigers a sniff with fifteen minutes to go. Conversion successful. Raiders 30-18.
69th min: PENALTY GOAL - Raiders. Matt Gafa moves the Raiders fourteen points clear and what looks to be a certain two points. Raiders 32-18.
75th min: TRY - Tigers. Mark O'Neill gets a well deserved try but it looks as though time will beat the Tigers tonight. Although the Raiders have been by far the better team, the Tigers have never given up. Conversion successful. Raiders 32-24.
FULL TIME: Canberra have won their second match in succession and the Tigers have lost their third to find themselves in a precarious position outside the top eight. Canberra took their foot off the pedal in the last twenty minutes and should have won by more considering they had a mountain of possession. Raiders coach Matt Elliott will be happy to get the two points and will look to build some momentum when they host the Cowboys next weekend.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - J Croker (Raiders) 2 - A Mogg (Raiders) 1 - M Gafa (Raiders) -----------------------------------------