The Canberra Raiders have made it back to back wins after they dismantled the Wests Tigers by 28-0 in wet conditions at Bankwest Stadium tonight.
Halfback Aidan Sezer was the star, after receiving a late call up to the starting side in jersey 18 from coach Ricky Stuart replacing Sam Williams. Sezer responded by delivering his best game of the year, with two try assists and scoring the match sealer, when he took an intercept and raced 80 metres to score under the posts.
The English influence in the Nation's Capital has been obvious this year, and it was displayed in their soccer skills, with the first three of the Raiders five tries coming from kicks off the ground that Sir Alex Ferguson would have been proud of. Firstly through Elliott Whitehead for Bailey Simmonsson to score the opener and then not to be outdone, Nick Cotric then guided a first touch pass for his winger Jordan Rapana to score a spectacular try. As the siren sounded in the first half, John Bateman then dribbled the ball through, which was cleaned up by his fullback Charnze Nicholl-Clokstad who then fed the ball back to the English second rower to score.
The Raiders defence was also a feature, not only holding the Tigers to zero points but pulling off some terrific one on one defence on their goal line to deny the home side a try on numerous ocassions at their new adopted home ground. The victory sends a message out to the NRL that the Raiders are back in contention for the Top 4 despite missing their key conductor in hooker Josh Hodgson.
Wests were incredibly disappointing, failing to cross the line and completely lost their way after the Raiders scored three tries to nil in the first half. To make matters worse, the Tigers lost Benji Marshall after the break when he failed to return after copping a stray elbow in the eye. Centre Mahe Fonua will also be in doubt next week after injuring his ankle.
The Raiders got off to a flyer, when skipper Jarrod Croker managed to get to an Aidan Sezer kick before it went into touch. Croker then passed inside to Whitehead who soccered the ball ahead for Bailey Simmonsson to touch down for the first try of the night. Croker converted from the sideline and the Raiders lead 6-0 after just four minutes.
The greasy conditions at Bankwest Stadium lead to handling errors from both sides in the first half, as both sides looked to get an edge. The Tigers looked to have got on the board, when fullback Corey Thompson sliced through and was tackled just ten metres short of the line. The ball then found Moses Mbye who found his outside man Esan Marsters who looked certain to score. The Raiders first tryscorer Simmonsson however had other ideas pulling off a sensational one on one tackle, somehow managing to hold Marsters up in goal, saving a certain try.
The Raiders then turned the momentum of the match, when Raiders halfback Sezer took on the line on the last tackle, Sezer then kicked wide for Nick Cotric who showed incredible composure to guide the ball along the ground like Lional Messi for his winger Jordan Rapana who scored a sensational try. Croker again converted from the sideline and Canberra lead 12-0 nearing halftime.
Canberra then found themselves with a chance to extend the lead with a field goal opportunity with seconds remaining in the half. Second rower John Bateman flipped the script however, when he dribbled the ball at the line and found his fullback Nicholl-Clokstad following up on the inside. The Raiders number 1, then produced a sublime subtle pass back to Bateman who scored the Raiders third try off a kick as the siren sounded. Croker again converted and Canberra lead 18-0 at the break.
The second half turned in an arm wrestle until Raiders second rower Elliot Whitehead picked up a loose ball and took off. Whitehead then found Wighton who was tackled just ten metres out. Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker then picked up the ball from dummy half and ran across field to where the Tigers lacked numbers on the left hand side. Croker then stepped back past Robbie Farah on the inside shoulder to score and extend the Canberra lead to 22-0.
Aidan Sezer then put the icing on the cake, latching onto a long pass from Tigers bench hooker Jacob Liddle to race 80m to score the match winner under the posts and securing a 28-0 win for the visitors.
The Raiders now head back to Canberra Stadium, where they face the Cronulla Sharks on Thursday night, it what promises to be an absolute blockbuster in the capital.
Wests Tigers face a very tough trip to Townsville, where they face the Cowboys next Friday.