Canberra Raiders made it back-to-back successes against a toothless Cronulla Sharks outfit with a 34-18 success tonight on the Gold Coast.
Canberra Raiders produced a 18 point second half led by exciting youngster Xavier Savage to overcome an 18-16 deficit in a game where defense at times seemed optional between these two top eight hopefuls.
Coming off their surprise win against Manly, the Raiders got themselves off to an ideal start. Jordan Rapana was awarded an eight-point try after some high contact from Sharks halfback Braydon Trindall to make it 8-nil.
Jarrod Croker has been a stalwart in the pointscoring charts and the Raiders centre featured heavily in the contest. He kicked seven goals from eight attempts as he edged closer to third in the all-time records and the Raiders held a firm 10-nil lead after his pair of penalty goals.
Sharks woke themselves up and scored twice in quick succession to hit right back. Centre Jesse Ramien rampaged across for the first then it was a slick backline play which featured both Shaun Johnson and William Kennedy to send Sione Katoa over in a pulsating first half.
Both sides came out of the sheds ready for action and traded four-pointers in the opening stages of the second stanza. Xavier Savage sliced through and linked up with his support for Jack Wighton to put them ahead before another simple structured play from the Sharks to Ronaldo Mulitalo gave them an 18-16 lead.
Wighton was forced from the field after his score which forced a reshuffle. The Raiders didn't skip a beat and piled on 18 points to move themselves in equal eighth with their opponents tonight - Cronulla. Hudson Young, Savage and Semi Velemei crossed the stripe in a morale boosting start to their time in Queensland.
In his second NRL game, Savage looked lively whenever he was on the ball. He was heavily involved in the Raiders second try with his initial break before the fullback got himself on the scoresheet with a support run to ice the contest. Savage might have cemented his spot as the Raiders fullback for the rest of 2021.
For the Sharks, they never showed up after half-time. Some ill-discipline and missed tackles didn't help in their endeavours but it cruelled them in their quest to join the Dragons in seventh position. The halves combo of Shaun Johnson and Trindall failed to click after their slick work last week against the Warriors.
One thing that will be put under the microscope after the game is the decision to award the Raiders an eight-point try in the first half. Rapana was hit high in the act of scoring but wasn't fazed as he celebrated. Sharks five-eighth Trindall was put on report for a slight clip and again, shows inconsistency in the officiating.