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A solid display by the Canberra Raiders has seen them come away from Toyota Stadium with a 24-14 win over the Cronulla Sharks tonight in front of a disappointing 8,561 fans.
It was a much improved performance from the losing home side, but the Sharks couldn't do enough to overcome the attacking prowess of Canberra, who held strong to record their second victory of the season.
The Sharks started strongly, repelling two Canberra attacking raids before launching a few of their own, one finishing in a Trent Barrett wide ball which put winger David Simmons in. It would be the first of three times that Simmons' efforts would trouble the Raiders left side defence, who continued to come in off the wing all night.
Covell's horror night with the boot allowed Canberra to reclaim the lead with each of their tries, taking a 6-4 lead after their first try. A penalty on halftime saw Luke Covell with an easier aim, and the sides went to the sheds the way they emerged from them, all squared up.
The 6-all halftime scoreline changed soon after the break when Cronulla's attack, markedly better than in the opening four rounds, managed to break down the Raiders. A similar backline movement to the first try allowed Simmons the second of his third tries.
The joy for the fans at Toyota was short-lived - Canberra hooker Stuart Flanagan darting over through some soft defence right under the posts, and the Raiders then reclaimed the lead.
Not having any luck along the ground, Brett Seymour took to the air, putting up a wide kick for David Simmons, who came down with his third four-pointer and put Cronulla in front for the final time of the night.
From there Canberra controlled the game in both defence and attack. Their next attacking raid saw Alan Tongue bury underneath the Sharks defensive line beside the goalposts. The Sharks began playing panic football after this and ultimately handed Terry Campese an easy try, the NSW halfback candidate running 65 metres to put the Sharkies to sleep and consign them to the bottom end of the ladder - only Manly remain below them.
It's a thrilling showdown coming up for Canberra - they travel to Skilled Park on Friday next week to tackle the Gold Coast. The Sharks meanwhile take to the Sturt Highway, and will host the Cowboys in Adelaide next Sunday.
Match Details Canberra Raiders 24 def Cronulla Sharks 14 Round 5 - Saturday April 11th, 2009, 5:30pm Venue: Toyota Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins & Alan Shortall Sideline Officials: Mohamad Fajajo & Peter Kirby Video Referee: Russell Smith Crowd: 8,561 Half time: 6-all
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Toyota Stadium has a small but steady crowd building as we approach kickoff in the third match of Round 5 in the 2009 NRL season.
The two sides have numerous changes. The sides to take the field:
SHARKS: 16. Matthew Wright 2. David Simmons 3. Ben Pomeroy 1. Mitch Brown 5. Luke Covell 6. Trent Barrett 7. Brett Seymour 14. Johnny Mannah 9. Corey Hughes 10. Luke Douglas 11. Reece Williams 12. Anthony Tupou 13. Reni Maitua Interchange: 4. Blake Ferguson 8. Bryan Norrie 15. Grant Millington 17. Terence Seu Seu RAIDERS: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Adrian Purtell 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Joel Monaghan 5. Justin Carney 6. Terry Campese 7. Marc Herbert 8. David Shillington 13. Alan Tongue (C) 10. Scott Logan 11. Joe Picker 12. Bronson Harrison 16. Josh Miller Interchange: 9. Stuart Flanagan 14. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 18. Shaun Fensom 23. Troy Thompson
The teams are out on the park now, fireworks fly from the in-goals. About nine or ten thousand on hand for this one.
1 min: An insane start from Cronulla, coming close to the line on a number of occasions before a deft kick from Mitch Brown turns possession over to the Raiders.
3 min: Canberra send the ball deep into Sharks territory in the return set, and then Pomeroy coughs up possession a few plays later. Canberra to attack early on here.
4 min: Canberra force a repeat set - line drop-out Cronulla.
5 min: More pressure, this time from the air, and David Simmons out-catches Adrian Purtell - Cronulla are out of gaol.
7 min: Some quite sensational attack from the Sharks here sees them launch an attacking raid on the Raiders' line, but the fifth tackle option favours the away side and they aren't troubled.
10 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Some scrappy passing from Canberra sees Brett Seymour pick the ball up, before offloading to Pomeroy. The Sharks then send it wide through Trent Barrett, who throws a mighty cut-out pass to David Simmons - he scores in the corner. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 4-0
14 min: PENALTY Sharks - the first of the game puts them on the attack again. The home side are really looking the goods tonight, particularly in attack. They now launch another raid on the Raiders line... but drop the ball.
17 min: Canberra rookie Josh Dugan diffuses a 40/20 attempt from Brett Seymour.
20 min: Some end-to-end play from both sides in the minutes since the Sharks try, the home side dominating field position however.
21 min: PENALTY Raiders - 25 metres out from the line, this will give Canberra their best shot yet at posting their first points.
22 min: A very dubious scrum awarded to the Raiders, they lose the ball, advantage is played and once the advantage has expired, Cronulla then lose it. Shortall calls a double knock on, Sharks feed.
24 min: PENALTY Raiders - Canberra are piggybacked out of their own zone. Vision of Ricky Stuart on the sideline showing his emotion... unpleasantly of course.
27 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Terry Campese sets up a pearler of a try for Jarrod Croker out wide and the Raiders open their account for tonight, and take the lead. Conversion attempt by Josh Dugan successful. Canberra Raiders 6-4
30 min: VIDEO REFEREE DECISION PENDING - possible Sharks try. Looks unlikely. NO TRY, Canberra scrum 10m out.
32 min: Troy Thompson spills the ball for Canberra and now Cronulla are sharp on the attack. Butterfingers from Pomeroy means no points for the Sharks.
38 min: PENALTY GOAL Cronulla Sharks Canberra messing around in the play-the-ball area and the Sharks waste no time in evening the scores through Luke Covell. 6 all
40 min: A frenetic final passage of play leads into halftime but no points come from either side's ambitious attempts at scoring. All level as we go to oranges.
HALFTIME Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6 Canberra Raiders 6 Cronulla came out firing on all cylinders but a combination of poor finishing, errors, and good Canberra defence have seen most of their chances go by the wayside. Canberra on the other hand haven't had a lot of pressing field position, and one feels that if they do in the second half, the game is theirs for the taking.
Don't go anywhere, the second half awaits shortly.
We're back underway here at Toyota Stadium
44 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks Another backline movement, Barrett involved again and Simmons finds out Canberra's left-side defence yet again. Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 10-6
47 min: Cronulla's attack is really firing tonight, but in this case Maitua puts it down. Raiders' scrum feed.
49 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Canberra part Cronulla's defensive waters as Stuart Flanagan goes in directly under the posts from dummy half. The Raiders reclaim the lead. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 12-10
54 min: Grant Millington gets a blood warning from the referee, and is taken to backplay.
56 min: TRY Cronulla Sharks A hat-trick for Simmons off a sensational Brett Seymour kick. Doesn't get any easier out wide for Covell though... Conversion attempt by Luke Covell unsuccessful. Cronulla Sharks 14-12
58 min: Cronulla give the Raiders some good field position from the return set.
59 min: Canberra force a repeat set as Matthew Wright comes off the park for Cronulla with an injured leg.
61 min: Blake Ferguson makes a sensational break but Josh Dugan represents a solid last line of defence and takes him down at full flight. Cronulla force a repeat set now... they could put Canberra away with a try here.
63 min: Cronulla hammer the Raiders line with no luck. The visitors now will work their way upfield.
64 min: Canberra head all the way upfield and by some bizarre logic Ben Cummins rules a Canberra knock on despite them having not touched it. The pressure on Cronulla relieved now.
66 min: Raiders go on the attack again, and then force Ferguson in-goal and a drop-out. Can they crack the Canberra line?
67 min: VIDEO REFEREE DECISION PENDING: Possible Raiders try to workhorse Alan Tongue. Looks good as he buries under the defence beside the goalpost.
68 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Alan Tongue's try next to the sticks is awarded, and this see-sawing scoreline does so once again with a little over ten remaining. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 18-14
69 min: A pinpoint kickoff from Covell outsmarts Learoyd-Lahrs and goes dead without being touched. Line drop-out will put the Sharkies straight on the attack!
71 min: VIDEO REFEREE DECISION PENDING: David Simmons possibly with his fourth try... doesn't look good though. NO TRY, knock on.
73 min: Some promising attack up the right ends in a drop ball from Trent Barrett. Sharks starting to play some panic footy here as proceedings wind toward a close.
76 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Cronulla's last tackle panic sees Canberra come up with and Campese runs 65m to score a thrilling try. He then spends the following minute sucking in the big ones after a big run. Conversion attempt by Josh Dugan successful. Canberra Raiders 24-14
79 min: Cronulla spill the ball coming out of their own end, Canberra will get one last shot at troubling the scorer.
FULLTIME Canberra Raiders 24 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 14 Canberra have taken their time but eventually powered over a depleted Cronulla Sharks side tonight. The match see-sawed until the last ten minutes, when Canberra's stamina saw them home.