Raiders five eighth Mark McLinden returned to his best form since the Super Mac days of the late 1990's as the Canberra Raiders outmuscled the Parramatta Eels 26-12 in a scrappy affair at Canberra Stadium.
Despite the 14 point winning margin it wasn't all smooth sailing for the Raiders who after jumping out to a 20-0 lead just 3 minutes before halftime conceded two tries on both sides of half time to have their lead reduced to 20-12 and the momentum was there for an Eels victory. But when Brad Drew was brought onto the field to partner McLinden in the halves the Raiders looked a more settled side and wrapped up the game with a try to former Eels second rower Ian Hindmarsh.
For the Raiders it was their third win from their opening four games giving the players a much deserved weekend off as they have next weekend's bye. It also heralded the return to form of star five eighth Mark McLinden. Whenever he had the ball, he caused problems for the Eels defence.
For the Eels tonight's loss was only the beginning of their problems as they will be without Ronald Prince for the next 2-4 weeks with a knee injury.
Scorers: RAIDERS 26 Tries:Schifcofske, Hodgson, Evans, Hindmarsh Goals: Schifcofske 5/5 defeated EELS 12 Tries: Dykes, Burt Goals: Burt 2/2
Canberra Stadium Referee: Steve Lyons Video Referee: Chris Ward Touch Judges: Luke Bugden, Matt Cecchin
By the clock: 0 min: Kick Off. A late change for the Raiders as Tyran Smith pulls out and Matt Gafa is brought onto the interchange bench.
6 min: News: A try saving tackle by Eric Grothe after he forces a mistake by Adam Mogg just 10 metres out from the tryline after a 60 metre burst up the field.
8 min: News: Eric Grothe is down on the ground getting attention from the Parramatta trainer after being at the wrong end of a Ruben Wiki bellringer.
9 min: Try-Raiders: Queensland State Of Origin hopeful Clinton Schifcofske scores in the corner after a 30 metre sprint. Schifcofske is successful with the conversion but goes over the 90 second time limit. Raiders 6-0
17 min: News: The Raiders just miss out on their second try of the evening after Eels winger Ronald Prince just beats Raiders winger Joel Monaghan to a Clinton Scifcofske grubber.
18 min: Try-Raiders: Ex Eels forward Michael Hodgson scores under the posts after backing up a Mark McLinden break up the centre of the field. Clinton Schifcofske is successful with the conversion. Raiders 12-0
21 min: Goal-Raiders: Clinton Schifcofske is successful with an easy penalty goal attempt after the Eels are penalised for offside. Raiders 14-0.
37 min: Try-Raiders: After asking the video referee to have a look at a possible obstruction, referee Steve Lyons awards a try to Raiders centre James Evans after he ran onto a neat cut out pass thrown by Mark McLinden. Clinton Schifcofske is successful with the conversion. Raiders 20-0
40 min: Try-Eels: Halfback Adam Dykes scores next to the posts after running onto a smart looking inside ball thrown by Daniel Wagon. Luke Burt is successful with the conversion. Raiders 20-6
Half Time Report: With a try scored right on full time the Eels proved that they are not done and dusted at this early stage of the game. The key for the Eels will be shutting down Mark McLinden and Clinton Schifcofske who have carved the Eels up with 2 line breaks each. For the Raiders they just need to keep on dong what they did in the 1st half.
42 min: News: Eric Grothe just misses out on a try after losing the ball just a couple metres out from the line as a result of some great Raiders defence.
47 min: News: Raiders centre James Evans is denied a try by the video referee after it is ruled Raiders interchange player Alan Tounge lost the ball forward after a bat down by Matt Gafa of a Mark McLinden cross field bomb.
50 min: News: Both sides have made a scrappy start to the second half.
53 min: Eels five-eigth Daniel Wagon committs the cardinal sin of dropping the ball on first tackle just 10 metres out from the Raiders line.
55 min: Try-Eels: After some deliberation with the video referee. Steve Lyons awards Eels fullback Luke Burt a try next to the posts after a neat little grubber by Adam Dykes. Burt converts his own try.
58 min: News: Raiders interchange player Terry Martin bombs what appeared to be a certain try after fumbling a great infield kick by Matt Gafa over the tryline.
58 min: Eels winger Ronald Prince is down on the ground receiving attention for a knee injury.
59 min: News: Brad Drew is brought back onto the field by Raiders coach Matthew Elliott in an effort to calm the young Raiders side down.
67 min: The Eels are appling pressure on the Raiders line as Clinton Schifcofske knocks on an Adam Dykes grubber in front of his own posts.
70 min: Try-Raiders: Former Eels Ian Hindmarsh scores under the posts after some great lead up work by Brad Drew, Mark McLinden and Matt Gafa. Clinton Schifcofske is successful with the conversion. It looks like the Eels need a miracle to win this game now. Raiders 26-12
Fulltime Report: This is a game that both sides would like to say they could improve on especially both sides 2nd half performances. For Eels coach Brian Smith it is not only the loss that will give him a headache as he will be without winger Ronald Prince for the next 2-4 weeks. For the Raiders it is bak to the Super Mac days for start five-eigth Mark Mclinden as whenever he had the ball in his hands he was a danger to the Eels defence. ----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - M McLinden (Raiders) 2 - R Wiki (Raiders) 1 - B Drew (Raiders) -----------------------------------------