Sharks win spiteful clash in the capital
Cronulla will be confident going into their elimination final against North Queensland after dealing with the Raiders 38-18 in front of 7,615 fans at Canberra.
The final game of the regular season was one of contrasting fortunes with the Raiders looking to the end of a tumultuous 2013 while the Sharks were looking to secure fifth position to take on the Cowboys in an elimination final.
They rested five eighth Todd Carney and second-rower Anthony Tupou but they got off to the best possible start in the fourth minute. Sosaia Feki was on the end of a backline movement to silence the home fans.
Jeff Robson had taken a lead role in the absence of his usual halves partner but a shanked kick going out on the full gave Canberra their first try. David Shillington breaking a try scoring drought to level the score.
Sharks rode their fortune with their second try as a bomb was spilled by Bill Tupou allowed Luke Lewis to pop up and plant it down. Gordon taking over kicking duties converted and added a penalty goal to stretch the lead to eight.
A play ripped from the Storm playbook reduced the deficit to two right on the break. The halves combined to send livewire fullback Anthony Milford into the gap and his speed beat Michael Gordon to the tryline.
On a cold Sunday night in Canberra - the temperature was steadily rising in the game, as both forward packs came together several times. Canberra would crack first though when Sami Sauiluma was sin binned.
Jeff Robson wound back the clock with a solo effort prising open the defense for a four-pointer. The try didn't cool tensions as Ben Ross and Jarrod Croker were placed on report for incidents.
Canberra weren't going into the off-season quietly as David Shillington grabbed a rare double from a Shaun Berrigan pass to keep the game in the balance.
After the Raiders closed the gap to within two - it all fell apart for the home side. Brett White was put on report for a dangerous tackle and the Sharks blew them away.
Tyrone Peachey got both Sharks and Panthers fans on their feet after a solo run, beating five defenders to slide over the tryline. It was going to take something spectacular to beat that.
Maybe Bryce Gibbs breaking his eight year try-scoring drought to seal the game. The ball rebounded everywhere before the two props combined for Gibbs to fall over the line. Beau Ryan added the icing on the cake in the final minute after being positioned by Ben Pomeroy.
Cronulla will move on to Saturday afternoon football - hosting the 8th placed North Queensland in an elimination final. Canberra will be looking for a coach and answers to how 2013 went so wrong.
Canberra Raiders 18 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 38
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Halftime Score: Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 14-12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Michael Gordon
2 points - Jeff Robson
1 point - David Shillington
CANBERRA RAIDERS (18)
Tries: David Shillington (2), Anthony Milford
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (3/3)
CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS (38)
Tries: Sosaia Feki, Luke Lewis, Jeff Robson, Tyrone Peachey, Bryce Gibbs, Beau Ryan
Conversions: Michael Gordon (6/6)
Penalty Goals: Michael Gordon (1/1)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
Welcome to Canberra Stadium
for the final game in 2013. We have the Canberra Raiders
who have had a tumultuous 2013 so will be looking to finish on a high. Cronulla on the other hand are gearing up for September and we will know the whole outlook of week one at 9pm.
Here come both sides onto Canberra Stadium
with the Sharks first in their blue home strip and followed by the most addictive theme in the NRL - Canberra who will kick-off through Milford.
Here we go for the final game of 2013!
PENALTY against Campese for a facial.
VIDEO REFEREE: Upstairs, checking obstruction.
7 min: Beau Ryan
goes for a dart and slips, so is caught high. PENALTY.
Raiders have their first PENALTY to the delight of the crowd.
14 min: Chad Townsend
tries to bite off too much with that kick, it goes OUT ON THE FULL!
19 min: Jarrod Croker
gets some space down the left but is taken by Ben Pomeroy
. Pomeroy is ruled to have stripped it, so scrum to Raiders.
VIDEO REFEREE: We're going upstairs to check if Joel Thompson
got to the line.
RED LIGHTS.. NO TRY. Some great defense by Michael Gordon
to save the try.
SIX MORE for the Raiders as the chip kick is charged down!
Raiders push one pass too many and Chad Townsend
VIDEO REFEREE: We visit the video referee again to check a Luke Lewis
Kick is OUT ON THE FULL! Sharks will come right back at them.
Stripped by the Sharks - PENALTY.
Raiders knock it on trying to open a gap.
PENALTY Sharks - Here they come to add more misery to the Raiders.
32 min: Jeff Robson
just rolls the ball through for a repeat set.
PENALTY Sharks - Raiders are slowing down the play the ball to a crawl.
The Chad chips a kick that rebounds from the post and Robinson is trapped.
That was an odd passage of play - Terry Campese
kicked it out on the full trying for a short one. Sharks point to the sticks.
We're back for the final half of football for the regular season. Can the Raiders finish 2013 on a high? or will Cronulla have momentum going into the finals series.
42 min: Tyrone Peachey
trying to play the ball too quick knocked it on.
Release screams the referee.. the Raiders don't oblige so PENALTY. Campese and his side is marched an extra ten for back chat.
Lewis gets a hospital ball from Robson and spills it.
47 min: Sam Williams
screws a kick across field forcing Gordon to go down to retrieve it, knocking it on. Dropout.
PENALTY Raiders after Sami Sailuma tries to go on with the tackle..
50 min: SIN BINSami Sauiluma
is sent to the sin bin.
Sauiluma is sent to the bin! Professional foul.
Always beware the second kick. Terry Campese
launched a bomb that Tupou batted back to Papalii who kicks it, rebounds into a Shark forcing a knock on. Another set looming for the Raiders.
.. until they turn it over.
VIDEO REFEREE: The referee was about to award it.. but we're checking for everyone's favourite thing, obstruction.
60 min: Jarrod Croker
ON REPORT.. for striking? I don't see where he struck him. That was a farce, Sharks PENALTY anyway.
PENALTY against the Sharks - holding on too long. The game is erupting here.
Two strong charges from the Raiders force another PENALTY.
Silly from McCrone ran right behind Shillington! Always a PENALTY.
It was a late shot from Brett White
that did the damage, so he's on report. Sharks have a PENALTY.
SIX MORE again as Heighington had it stripped.
76 min: Josh Papalii
has had an unhappy game, knocking on here.
80 min: Jeff Robson
tries to kick a behind, wrong sport mate.
FULLTIME - Sharks win a spiteful clash going into the finals.