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The Canberra Raiders have held off a brave Brisbane Broncos comeback by 22-14 in front of 14,200 fans at Canberra Stadium tonight.
The home side started with an incredible flurry, up 12-0 after 12 minutes through tries to Joel Thompson and Josh Dugan, Terry Campese perfect with the boot as the Raiders stunned Brisbane, surely invoking memories of the 2009 clash at the same venue where Canberra triumphed 56-0.
The remainder of the half seemed to ebb and flow, and was punctuated with errors and ill-discipline from both sides. It wasn't until the stroke of halftime another try was scored, the Raiders extending their lead with Josh McCrone barreling over to score.
With an 18-0 deficit at halftime, one could be forgiven for thinking Brisbane had not bothered to turn up. Ivan Henjak had other ideas and with the halftime rev-up he offered, the visitors turned it around early after the resumption of play, Israel Folau scoring the first of his two tries for the night - and Brisbane already looking sharper.
Folau doubled his effort in the 56th minute, a similar right-side run turning the Raiders defence inside out and closing the gap between the sides to just 8 points. Errors, along with controlled possession by Brisbane, meant the visitors just kept coming, and with twelve minutes remaining, a Ben Te'o try put the Broncos within four points.
This would be Brisbane's last effort - committed Raiders defence saw out further opportunities for Henjak's men and a frenetic final few minutes saw Canberra score a try on the bell to add to their tally.
Brisbane have a lot of improvement left in them as they head home to Suncorp next Sunday to face the Warriors, while Canberra's away trip to the Gold Coast will be of interest to see if the Raiders can replicate tonight's form whilst on the road.
Match Details Canberra Raiders 22 defeated Brisbane Broncos 14 National Rugby League - NRL - Round 2 - Monday March 22, 2010 7:00pm Venue: Canberra Stadium Referee: Gavin Badger and Phil Haines Video Referee: Chris Ward Touch Judges: Russell Turner and Henry Perenara Crowd: 14,200 Halftime: Canberra Raiders 18 Brisbane Broncos 0
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Terry Campese (3 Conversions)
2 Points - Josh Dugan (1 Try)
1 Point - Israel Folau (2 Tries)
CANBERRA RAIDERS (22)
Tries: Joel Thompson, Josh Dugan, Josh McCrone (2)
Conversions: Terry Campese (3/3), Jarrod Croker (0/1)
BRISBANE BRONCOS (14)
Tries: Israel Folau (2), Ben Te'o
Conversions: Corey Parker (1/2), Corey Norman (0/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Canberra Stadium is a cool 22 degrees for this clash, where the men in maroon will be smarting from their loss late last year by 56-0 against the Green Machine. A few minor positional changes with James Stuart making his debut for the home side. Click the "Team Lists" link above to check the starting lineups.
1 min: We have kickoff in tonight's match with Brisbane in their white away strip having first possession.
2 min: Canberra away up the middle with Campese putting Joel Thompson in space up the middle before the Brisbane defenders converge to bring the play undone. Thompson drops it backwards but it's Brisbane who pick it up.
5 min: TRY
Some fantastic draw and pull work by the Raiders out wide finishes with Joel Thompson hitting a hole and scoring the try he was denied minutes earlier. Campese converts to put Canberra in front by six.
Canberra Raiders 6-0
7 min: Brisbane find themselves in the Raiders' attacking zone but a drop ball from an offload lets Canberra off the hook.
11 min: TRY
Josh Dugan goes to wrap around Joe Picker and successfully does so, then attempts a cut out pass which is batted by a Broncos defender back into his hands. He regathers and pushes past a few defenders to ground the ball - it's a try! Campese floats the conversion through the sticks and the home side is now 12 points in front after as many minutes.
Canberra Raiders 12-0
18 min: Brisbane on the attack again after some up-and-back play but nothing doing as they lose the ball. It's now compounded by a penalty against Broncos enforcer Sam Thaiday for mucking around in the ruck.
22 min: A big last tackle cross-field bomb almost lands for Folau but he misses it and Dugan picks it up at the back, and runs 50 metres before being grounded. The Raiders keep surging upfield but going for the corner on the last Daniel Vidot is bundled into touch.
25 min: Another attacking set falls apart for Brisbane on Canberra's line, a loose pass finding its way into the arms of Bronson Harrison and again the Raiders can relax.
27 min: Finally a good set completion from Brisbane, Lockyer grubbering ingoal for Dugan, and Wallace manages to tackle him and force the line drop-out.
29 min: Attacking flair from the hosts comes to nothing, Troy Thompson fumbling an offload after a series of second phase play from Canberra had the Broncos defenders on the back foot.
32 min: Alan Tongue is interchanged for Travis Waddell, can Brisbane capitalise while the Raiders' control centre is off the park? Meanwhile a Lockyer grubber is watched dead by Dugan and it's back to the 20m line for a restart to Canberra.
37 min: Brisbane still making poor errors as the Raiders will look to capitalise just before halftime. Folau tries offloading to Kemp but the ball goes somewhere into Row 6.
39 min: TRY
Josh McCrone runs rampage close to the line and the Raiders' stand-in halfback has a try right before the break. Campese's conversion puts Canberra 18 points clear as we go to halftime.
Canberra Raiders 18-0
40 min: We've hit halftime here in Canberra, and it's the Green Machine well out in front. Scarily enough, their completion rate is atrocious and they could be playing much better football. Brisbane's defence has been a major concern and only a high error rate from both sides has saved them from a similar fate to the one they received at this ground last season. Expect a Henjak blast at the break as the Broncos will look to salvage this game.
41 min: Underway again at Canberra, the Raiders will have first possession this half.
44 min: TRY
Israel Folau scores the try after offering support to Corey Norman who sliced through some soft Raiders left-side defence. Parker converts and Brisbane score their first points at this venue since 2008, in turn reducting the gap to 12 points.
Canberra Raiders 18-6
47 min: Brisbane heavy on the attack now and looking much sharper than they were in the first half. A penalty gives them more attacking football on the Canberra line.
50 min: Sam Thaiday is the victim of a contentious decision, ruled to have dropped the ball and it's a Raiders scrum. Shillington drops it on the second tackle though, inside his own 20m! The Raiders will be forced to defend again.
51 min: Winterstein is too quick for a wide pass and it flies behind him into touch, breaking down the Broncos attack.
56 min: TRY
Big Izzy storms through again and it's the same side of the park - some concern now for Canberra as Brisbane close the gap further. Parker misses.
Canberra Raiders 18-10
60 min: Brisbane with a very positive set but Folau is tackled on the last and it's a handover. James Stuart looks like he copped a slight knock in that last tackle there and time is called off briefly. Stuart to his feet now and we're back underway with Canberra working it off their own line.
62 min: A bomb goes up from the Broncos on the last and Daniel Vidot can't take it. Brisbane will feed the scrum just 10m out from the line. In the meantime, Corey Parker's got blood all over the place and is being ordered to replace his jumper in backplay.
64 min: Big call, Lockyer advancing to the line and the ball pops out the back - it's ruled to have been stripped and Brisbane have a penalty on the Raiders line. A try here would really stir things up...
65 min: Brisbane turning the screws here, Vidot knocks on in-goal and it's a line drop-out. The second half possession is a staggering 67% in favour of the Broncos.
67 min: MASSIVE HIT! Tongue knocks the stuffing out of the Broncos ball returner, and it's the Raiders ball. Now a loose pass and Thaiday intercepts and charges upfield! And a penalty against Campese now! Brisbane back on the attack!
68 min: TRY
Ben Te'o crashes over as weight of possession carries Brisbane closer to the lead. Corey Norman has assumed goalkicking duties but shanks his first attempt wide from a relatively easy position.
Canberra Raiders 18-14
72 min: Canberra finally find themselves in attacking position but a knock-on from David Shillington on the last tackle brings it undone.
74 min: An impressive crowd figure of 14,200 for Canberra's first home game of 2010. Daniel Vidot, who's had a shocker tonight, makes a break up the touchline and carries the Raiders into the attacking zone. Can they put the game away here?
77 min: Brisbane on the attack now with a little over three minutes on the clock and a full set of six inside Canberra's 20 metre line.
78 min: Brisbane spread it on the last... out to Folau, they've got him wrapped up! Great defence to keep Brisbane at bay there. They'll work it back with a little over two minutes left now.
79 min: Joel Thompson makes a huge break and he's almost there, with Vidot in support, draws the fullback, passes - but Antonio Winterstein gets his hand to it and intercepts. Brisbane work it back but cough it up and Tongue has it and Canberra will attack again from around 30m out with one minute left.
80 min: TRY
The Raiders go wide with the last play of the game and the obviously deflated Broncos left-side defence lets McCrone through for a try on the bell. Jarrod Croker takes the last conversion attempt from near the touchline but can't convert.
Canberra Raiders 22-14
80 min: That's the game at Canberra and we close out Round 2 with an exciting Monday night clash. The Raiders got away with this one through a strong first half and solid defence in the second half against a wave of possession.