Raiders romp slays Sharks

They may have been missing a range of key players, but that didn't matter for the Canberra Raiders today, as they thrashed the Cronulla Sharks 40-12 at Canberra Stadium.

News pre-game that Matt Orford and Josh Dugan would not play had plenty of punters backing the Sharks, particularly with a long-term injury to Terry Campese. It became worse inside the first ten minutes, with captain Alan Tongue leaving the field injured also.

The Sharks made the most of things early, Luke Douglas running hard at the line and scoring the first try of the game. The Sharks led 6-0 early but from there the Raiders calmed the waters and controlled proceedings for the remainder of the half. Cronulla's completion rate dropped away from near-perfect to embarrassing and the Raiders took to the air with great success. Josh McCrone, Blake Ferguson and Dane Tilse all put the Raiders into a comfortable position early on, while a try just prior to halftime for Jarrod Croker put the Raiders into cruise-control and a lead of 22-6 at the change of ends.

Cronulla's second half looked promising again early but ill discipline and poor handling cost them whenever near the Raiders line - then Daniel Vidot and Joe Picker (who later left the field injured) scored back-to-back tries to put the result beyond doubt.

A Nathan Gardner try provided some consolation for the visitors before the electric Raiders took their tally to 40 after a Shaun Fensom try. At 40-12, the scorer wasn't troubled again but it was a huge final fifteen minutes, with Brett White placed on report for lifting knees in possession of the ball - Albert Kelly was stretchered off as a result. Just a few minutes later, the Sharks were reduced to 12 men with Paul Aiton sent from the field for a headbutt in a scuffle involving most of the players on the field.

The result leaves Canberra with a promising season ahead - such a strong performance whilst missing the core of their side will give the side and it's supporter base plenty of reason to hope. They face Brisbane next Friday night at home, while the Sharks host the Dragons in what now seems a daunting prospect.

Match Details
Canberra Raiders 40 defeated Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 12
National Rugby League - Round 1 - Sunday March 13, 2011 2:00pm
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Referee: Ashley Klein and Adam Devcich
Video Referee: Phil Cooley
Touch Judges: Ricky McFarlane and Jason Walsh
Crowd: 13500 (approx)
Halftime: Canberra Raiders 22 Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6

Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 Points - Josh McCrone (1 Try)
2 Points - Joel Thompson
1 Point - Sam Williams

CANBERRA RAIDERS (40)
Tries: Dane Tilse, Joe Picker, Jarrod Croker, Daniel Vidot, Shaun Fensom, Blake Ferguson, Josh McCrone
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (6/7)

CRONULLA SUTHERLAND SHARKS (12)
Tries: Luke Douglas, Nathan Gardner
Conversions: John Williams (2/2)

LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Canberra Stadium on a sunny Sunday afternoon! A few team changes for this Raiders v Sharks clash. Canberra lose Josh Dugan and Matt Orford, 21. David Milne and 25. Sam Williams replacing each of those men. Otherwise there are no further changes for the Raiders. Cronulla are 1-16, with Jason Bukuya (#17) clearing the way for Johnny Mannah (#18).
1 min: We're underway at Canberra Stadium!
1 min: PENALTY Sharks, former Cronulla winger Blake Ferguson, now a Raiders, concedes the first penalty of the day.
3 min: Raiders with some good attacking footy, forcing a line dropout from the Sharks. They'll get another set.
5 min: INJURY: Alan Tongue (CAN). The Raiders' captain has gone off the field in a further blow to the Raiders. Sharks with a penalty and set to attack.
7 min: Cronulla do well to trap David Milne (CAN) in-goal. Line drop-out.
8 min: Nathan Gardner (CRO) is in to score... but it's a FORWARD PASS from Anthony Tupou. CAN scrum on their own 10m line.
10 min: Bronson Harrison (CAN) spills the ball with the line in sight. CRO scrum.
12 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Luke Douglas. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful.
Huge bust up the middle from Kade Snowden and then Nathan Gardner. The Raiders draw the penalty and Cronulla continue to attack, a hard run at the line results in the Sharks opening try! Luke Douglas is the scorer. John Williams assumes goalkicking duties with an easy one from next to the posts, it is successful.
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 6-0
13 min: PENALTY Sharks, Shaun Fensom (CAN) with a silly high tackle on the kickoff return.
16 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Josh McCrone. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Sharks defence reminiscent of 2010 there, not attentive enough to the McCrone chip-kick, goes wide and McCrone recieves the ball back in the middle... it's try time for the home side! Croker converts.
6 all
18 min: Uh oh... the kickoff has confused everyone. It's bounced very close to the dead ball line... and on replays it shows it was just inside. Raiders line dropout! The crowd was furious but the decision is correct - Sharks in possession.
20 min: The Sharks' attack is promising but the grubber through on the fifth just beats everyone dead. CAN 20m restart.
25 min: VIDEO REFEREE - possible Raiders try. Checking obstruction.
25 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Dane Tilse. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Touch and go for a moment there, a possible obstruction but the player in question wasn't going to affect the try being scored. Tilse barges his way over, Croker converts.
Canberra Raiders 12-6
30 min: Two failed attacking raids for Canberra since the try, the Sharks also spilt the ball on their one set of six since. Wait... Cronulla have spilled it again.
33 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Blake Ferguson. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker unsuccessful.
This is getting a little too easy for the depleted Green Machine, their recruit from today's opponents - Blake Ferguson, has plucked it out of the air in the corner. All the Raiders tries have been aerial today... a source of concern for Flanagan? Croker lines it up from out wide... it's missed.
Canberra Raiders 16-6
37 min: 40/20 Canberra Raiders
Sam Williams kicks a 40/20.
Top stuff from the debutant half for the Raiders. This puts them right in the thick of things.
38 min: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Raiders try (Jarrod Croker). Question mark over the grounding. Could be given as a Benefit of the Doubt try.
Decision pending...
40 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Jarrod Croker. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
After countless replays Croker is awarded the try with Benefit of the Doubt on the grounding. Right before halftime, this is a huge blow for the Sharks. Good wide run by Croker to score the try as well. His attempt at converting his own try goes right over the black dot. That's oranges!
Canberra Raiders 22-6
40 min: HALFTIME and it's Cronulla with all the work ahead of them. A strong start gave way to a complete lack of defence as Canberra have run in four tries - three of them from the air. The Sharks need to get in and contest the high ball if they want to be part of this one, otherwise the Raiders are set for a good afternoon.
40 min: We're back underway in the Nation's Capital. Canberra with the first set of six.
42 min: Good start for Cronulla, a penalty near the end of their first set sees them deep in Canberra territory. Can they start an early fightback?
44 min: Good job by the Sharks to force a line dropout. Bad job by Cronulla backrower Anthony Tupou, spilling it on tackle two after the dropout.
46 min: Huge break down the sideline, Thompson away and the Raiders are suddenly in front of the Cronulla line! Passes, ducks, weaves, good Sharks defence... fifth tackle kick is taken on the full by John Williams. CRO 20m restart.
47 min: Ordinary kick from Wade Graham (CRO) 30m out grubbers over the dead ball line. CAN 20m restart.
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50 min: Ouch! Nathan Gardner (CRO) drops a high ball with no real pressure on his own 10m line. CAN scrum.
51 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Daniel Vidot. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
The Raiders slide right from the scrumbase, defenders have all come in to cover Jarrod Croker, leaving Daniel Vidot untouched on the far left. Vidot makes no mistake, strolls over and scores. Croker converts to push Canberra's lead out to 22 points.
Canberra Raiders 28-6
57 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Joe Picker. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Oh dear. This is getting a little embarrassing for the Sharks, that pre-season hope that they might improve has vanquished inside an hour of action toda. Joe Picker trots through feeble defence to score beside the posts. Croker converts, game well and truly over now.
Canberra Raiders 34-6
59 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Raiders try (Blake Ferguson).
Phil Cooley getting a workout. Ferguson's scored in the corner, although the grounding and touchline are in question. Decision pending...
60 min: NO TRY. Replays show Ferguson stepped out before grounding it. Will be a question of advantage for Canberra against Cronulla's knock on... advantage was played. Sharks feed 10m out. Cronulla escape there.
61 min: INJURY: Bad news after Joe Picker's try a few minutes ago for Canberra, he's got a cork in his left knee. He won't be back today. Canberra down to 15 men.
64 min: TRY
TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Scored by Nathan Gardner. Conversion attempt by John Williams successful.
Consolation try there for the Sharks as we enter the final quarter of proceedings. Great stuff from Nathan Gardner to grab a four-pointer. Williams converts.
Canberra Raiders 34-12
68 min: TRY
TRY Canberra Raiders
Scored by Shaun Fensom. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Shaun Fensom adds to the onslaught with a four-pointer, Croker the conversion. The Raiders hit 40.
Canberra Raiders 40-12
70 min: INJURY: Albert Kelly (CRO) has run into the brick wall otherwise known as Brett White (CAN) and he's in Disneyland. The medicab will come out and he'll be stretchered off. Not good news for the Sharks.
70 min: Interesting. Brett White (CAN) is about to be placed ON REPORT for lifting his knee in the tackle which may have been part of the Albert Kelly injury. PENALTY Sharks.
73 min: SENT OFF
Paul Aiton is sent off the field.
BIFF! Well, more push and shove, but it looks like there's been a headbutt in an aerial contest, which will be against Cronulla. Paul Aiton is the culprit - he's been SENT OFF!
77 min: A huge break from the Raiders ends up with Sam Williams losing the ball, Sharks in possession.
80 min: One last salvo at the Canberra line comes up empty for the Sharks. That's the game!
FULLTIME: And Canberra have won the day. The result was in the bag very early, and the last quarter gave us plenty of talking points. Cronulla with plenty of work to do before facing reigning premiers St George Illawarra next Monday night. Canberra will be licking their lips at facing Brisbane on Friday evening.

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