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
TEAM NEWS: Todd Carney and Anthony Tupou are out for the Cronulla Sharks. Chad Townsend replaces Carney and Tupou Sopoaga makes his NRL debut in place of Anthony Tupou.
For Canberra, Mitch Cornish was denied his NRL debut by the NRL for salary cap issues. Sam Williams returns into the halves.
Raiders: 1. Anthony Milford 2. Reece Robinson 3. Jarrod Croker 4. Sami Sauiluma 5. Bill Tupou 6. Terry Campese (c) 18. Sam Williams 8. David Shillington 9. Josh McCrone 10. Brett White 11. Josh Papalii 12. Joel Thompson 13. Joel Edwards
Interchange: 14. Shaun Berrigan 15. Joe Picker 16. Dane Tilse 17. Paul Vaughan
Sharks: 1. Michael Gordon 2. Sosaia Feki 3. Ben Pomeroy 4. Jonathan Wright 5. Beau Ryan 18. Chad Townsend 7. Jeff Robson 8. Andrew Fifita 9. John Morris 10. Sam Tagataese 11. Luke Lewis 19. Tupou Sopoaga 13. Chris Heighington
Interchange: 14. Isaac De Gois 15. Tyrone Peachey 16. Ben Ross 17. Bryce Gibbs
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.
CAN: Only one change for the home side - Mitchell Cornish has had his debut blocked by the NRL due to second tier salary cap, so Sam Williams will play halfback.
CRO: Two changes for the Sharks - Todd Carney is OUT replaced by Chad Townsend who is off to New Zealand next year and Tupou Sopoaga replaces Anthony Tupou.
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!
1 min: PENALTY against Campese for a facial.
2 min: Why oh why did Michael Gordon pass? Michael Gordon sliced through and all he had to do is put the ball down!! Now it's a dropout.
VIDEO REFEREE: Upstairs, checking obstruction.
4 min: TRY CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Scored by Sosaia Feki. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! Sosaia Feki is on the back of a nice backline movement and dived over. Referee was checking the obstruction. Gordon converts.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 6-0
7 min: Beau Ryan goes for a dart and slips, so is caught high. PENALTY.
9 min: Raiders have their first PENALTY to the delight of the crowd.
9 min: Josh Papalii knocks it on..
10 min: Michael Gordon was threatening again, looking to put Luke Lewis into space but spills it.
14 min: Chad Townsend tries to bite off too much with that kick, it goes OUT ON THE FULL!
17 min: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by David Shillington. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Raiders have hit back through David Shillington! Croker converts.
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.
19 min: RED LIGHTS.. NO TRY. Some great defense by Michael Gordon to save the try.
22 min: SIX MORE for the Raiders as the chip kick is charged down!
23 min: Raiders push one pass too many and Chad Townsend is away..
VIDEO REFEREE: We visit the video referee again to check a Luke Lewis TRY.
25 min: TRY CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Scored by Luke Lewis. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
GREEN LIGHTS.. TRY! The bomb was spilled by Sami Sauiluma allowing Luke Lewis to pop up and score under the posts. Gordon makes it two from two with conversions.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 12-6
25 min: Kick is OUT ON THE FULL! Sharks will come right back at them.
28 min: Stripped by the Sharks - PENALTY.
29 min: Raiders knock it on trying to open a gap.
31 min: 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.
33 min: PENALTY Sharks - Raiders are slowing down the play the ball to a crawl.
36 min: The Chad chips a kick that rebounds from the post and Robinson is trapped.
37 min: 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.
38 min: SUCCESSFUL PENALTY GOAL CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Penalty goal attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Gordon extends the lead out to eight points.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 14-6
40 min: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by Anthony Milford. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Hello, was that the Canberra Raiders or the Melbourne Storm. Campese went outside to Williams who got it inside to Milford. He had too much toe for the Sharks defense and scored. Croker converts.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 14-12
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.
41 min: Kick-off!
42 min: Tyrone Peachey trying to play the ball too quick knocked it on.
44 min: Release screams the referee.. the Raiders don't oblige so PENALTY. Campese and his side is marched an extra ten for back chat.
45 min: 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.
50 min: PENALTY Raiders after Sami Sailuma tries to go on with the tackle..
50 min: SIN BIN
Sami Sauiluma is sent to the sin bin.
Sauiluma is sent to the bin! Professional foul.
53 min: TRY CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Scored by Jeff Robson. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Robson game to take the line on again, dummies, spins and plants it down. Michael Gordon converts.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 20-12
56 min: 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.
56 min: .. until they turn it over.
58 min: PENALTY against Ben Ross for getting Anthony Milford in a dangerous position. He is also put on report.
VIDEO REFEREE: The referee was about to award it.. but we're checking for everyone's favourite thing, obstruction.
59 min: RED LIGHTS.. NO TRY! Joel Thompson made contact with the defender opening the space for Anthony Milford.
60 min: Jarrod Croker ON REPORT.. for striking? I don't see where he struck him. That was a farce, Sharks PENALTY anyway.
61 min: Good hit by Jarrod Croker doslodged the ball!
61 min: PENALTY against the Sharks - holding on too long. The game is erupting here.
62 min: Two strong charges from the Raiders force another PENALTY.
63 min: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by David Shillington. Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.
Good work from Shaun Berrigan winding back the clock there - taking the line on and giving Shillington a good ball to crash over. Jarrod Croker puts them back within two.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 20-18
65 min: Silly from McCrone ran right behind Shillington! Always a PENALTY.
66 min: SIX MORE thanks to a failed Reece Robinson intercept. John Morris is receiving attention on a shoulder concern.
67 min: It was a late shot from Brett White that did the damage, so he's on report. Sharks have a PENALTY.
67 min: SIX MORE again as Heighington had it stripped.
71 min: TRY CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Scored by Tyrone Peachey. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
Tyrone Peachey - something for the Panthers fans to get excited about.. Peachey shrugged off five defenders to slide over for the try that should win the Sharks the game. Michael Gordon to put it beyond a converted try and does.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 26-18
72 min: Josh Papalii picks up Ben Pomeroy and cartwheels him, PENALTY and ON REPORT.
75 min: TRY CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Scored by Bryce Gibbs. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
BRYCE GIBBS HAS A TRY! No nudie run for the bald eagle, it was rebounding everywhere and Ben Ross passes to Bryce Gibbs to score. Gordon slots the conversion.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 32-18
76 min: Josh Papalii has had an unhappy game, knocking on here.
79 min: TRY CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS
Scored by Beau Ryan. Conversion attempt by Michael Gordon successful.
It's party time for the Sharks now.. touchie misses a clear forward pass allowing Pomeroy to position Beau Ryan to score in the corner. Michael Gordon with his toughest assignment tonight, nails it.
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 38-18
80 min: Jeff Robson tries to kick a behind, wrong sport mate.
80 min: FULLTIME - Sharks win a spiteful clash going into the finals.