DOGS DOWNED | Canberra came from the clouds to down Canterbury in the National Capital this afternoo...
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The New Zealand Warriors have snuck home by 17-16 against the Raiders tonight in a great contest at Aussie Stadium. The Warriors were deserved victors after fighting back from a 10-0 deficit after 23 minutes of play, and out scoring the Raiders by three tries to two.
However, the match could have been so different had Canberra centre Jason Bugarelli clutched firmly a grubber into the Warriors in-goal area with five or six minutes left on the clock. It was an easy grab which really should have been taken, and it might cost him a beer or two come Monday.
Early on in the match the Raiders lead 10-0 mainly thanks to the boot of Clinton Schifcofske who kicked two penalties and converted a clever try out of dummy half by Simon Woolford. Canberra were on fire during this period and really seemed to give the Warriors some of their own medicine with punishing tackles and barnstorming surges.
But the tide turned slowly and in the 23rd minute Logan Swann found himself on the end of a Stacey Jones short ball and he burst over the line. A short time later Clinton Toopi gathered up a scrappy pass to bag a try, and with Brent Webb converting the scores were 10-all going into half time.
The Warriors didn?t waste any time in the second half, with Henry Fa?afili scoring a brilliant try from a Stacey Jones bomb in the 45th minute. Webb pushed the score out to 16-10 and the Warriors were looking good.
But the Raiders struck back 10 minutes later through big Luke Davico who crashed over from short range and with the ever reliable boot of Schifcofske, we had a tied-up game again.
The scores remained 16-all until the Jones? 77th minute field goal broke the deadlock, but in between some great end to end footy was played with neither team particularly dominating until a well weighted grubber to Francis Meli?s wing saw the big fella struggle to get out of his in-goal and was eventually put into touch by Joel Monaghan.
From the scrum Canberra worked a few plays back into the centre of the field before spreading it wide and kicking through into the Warriors in-goal area. With Jason Bugarelli storming through and Jamaal Lolesi in support, the Green Machine looked set to score and probably wrap up the match. But the big centre got stage fright and spilt the pill with very little attention from the New Zealand team, and capping off a pretty unforgettable evening for himself.
The Warriors will now meet the Penrith Panthers next week in what?s sure to be a thrilling encounter. And the Raiders can look forward to next year, knowing that they?ve come a long way this season and can hold their heads high in the best year the club has had since 1994. Leagueunlimited.com Player of the Year Awards
3 ? S Jones (Warriors) 2 ? C Schifcofske (Raiders) 1 ? L Swann (Warriors)
Saturday 20 Sep 2003 7:30 PM Aussie Stadium Referee: Tim Mander Video Referee: Graeme West Scorers: WARRIORS Tries: Swann, Toopi, Fa'afili Goals: Webb 2/3 Field Goals: Jones RAIDERS Tries: Woolford, Davico Goals: Schifcofske 4/4
By the clock:
1 min: Big crowd present at Aussie Stadium where the New Zealand Warriors kick-off to open this much anticipated clash.
2 min: PENALTY GOAL - Raiders. After an attacking raid featuring a great run from Mark McClinden, Canberra receive a penalty for offside and Clinton Schifcofske calmly pots it between the posts. Raiders 2 Warriors 0.
7 min: TRY - Raiders. Simon Woolford scores the opening try for the Green Machine from a dummy half burst following consistent pressure from Canberra. Raiders 6 Warriors 0.
8 min: Schifcofske makes no mistake and extends the lead to 8-0 in favour of Canberra.
11 min: PENALTY GOAL - Raiders. Another offside penalty gives the Raiders a gift two points, and now lead 10-0 over a bamboozled Warriors outfit.
23 min: TRY - Warriors. New Zealand creep back into the game with a good try to Logan Swann who ran off a great short ball from Stacey Jones close to the line. The game has stepped up in the physical stakes also, with many big hits out in the centre. Raiders 10 Warriors 4.
24 min: Brent Webb fails with the conversion and the score remains Raiders 10 Warriors 4.
34 min: TRY - Warriors. Clinton Toopi crawls over the line on all fours and posts another one for the Warriors who are really starting to get into this clash after a sluggish start. Raiders 10 Warriors 8.
35 min: Webb converts to level the scores and all of a sudden the this game is really starting to heat up.
We're level pegging here between the Raiders and the Warriors. After a brilliant start by Canberra, New Zealand have steadily built themselves back into the contest and have a fair bit of momentum going their way. Either team can take it from here, but it appears it will be a very tight contest.
41 min: Raiders kick-off to get us underway in the second half.
45 min: TRY - Warriors. Cross-field kick from Jones sees Henry Fa'afili cannon into the air and snatch it out of Schifcofske's arms before struggling over the line to ground the ball. Sensational stuff. Tim Mander refers it to the video referee who gives it the green light. Warriors hit the lead 14-10 over the Raiders.
46 min: Brent Webb converts and the Warriors lead 16-10 over the Raiders.
56 min: TRY - Raiders. Davico storms over next to the post from short range. Warriors 16 Raiders 14.
57 min: Schifcofske converts and the game is back in the balance at 16-all with just over 20 minutes remaining.
62 min: Try disallowed to the Raiders after a soaring bomb from McClinden was knocked on out wide by Joel Monaghan. Scores still 16-all.
74 min: An absorbing contest being played out here. Meli has been forced into touch from a kick return and in the ensuing play from the scrum Bugarelli has split the ball over the line which would have been a certain match winner.
77 min: Stacey Jones pots a fantastic field goal to take the lead over the Raiders by 17-16.
Warriors clinch the game 17-16 despite a desperate final play from Canberra to score a field goal, which then turned into a sprawling attacking run spanning the width of the field. It looked very close to going into extra time but the New Zealand defence just chewed up too much of Canberra's energy.