Full Time
6:00pm Fri March 22, 2024
Round 3 - Apollo Projects Stadium, Christchurch / Aotearoa - Crowd: 17249

Match Overview

A superb team performance from New Zealand featuring grit and spark gets them their first win of 2024 - triumphing 18-10 over the Canberra Raiders.

Addin Fonua-Blake was the story of the first half, scoring a try inside the first 10 minutes off a beautiful Shaun Johnson pass, and nearly crossing a second time in what was a dominant performance up the middle. It stayed 6-0 for most of the first 40, as New Zealand cautiously controlled the tempo. 

Some solo brilliance from Matthew Timoko put Canberra back in the game, with Jamal Fogarty's kicks keeping the milk in with a chance. Canberra looked like scoring again before half time, with a few silly errors from The Warriors putting them in a vulnerable position. Ethan Strange showed his craftiness at 5/8 by regularly threatening New Zealand's try line, but the hosts defence held strong and they ultimately took a narrow 6-4 lead into the break.

Young fullback Taine Tuaupiki looked allusive to start the second half, with sharp footwork causing plenty of headaches for the visitors. Unfortunately, a 48th minute HIA which he ultimately failed cut his night short, forcing returning superstar Roger Tuivasa-Sheck to shift to fullback. Although they soon were gifted a golden opportunity through a penalty, strong Canberra defence forced an error.

To make matters worse, the hosts conceded a penalty only a couple sets later to give The Raiders their first attacking chance of the second half. The new-look Warriors backline struggled with their defensive reads, and winger Mareclo Montoya shot up out of his line and left an overlap for Nick Cotric to score a simple try. After Fogarty converted from the sideline, Canberra led 10-6 and seemed right on top with 25 minutes to go and New Zealand down their fullback.

After a confusing bunker referral, The Warriors were handed possession and began to build pressure. Ricky Stuart's men struggled to keep their composure, giving away a penalty and providing an opening for their opponents. New Zealand spread the ball wide, but Dallin Watene-Zelezniak cut against the grain and ran back field, finding a beautiful hole for 5/8 Luke Metcalf to scoot through and score. Suddenly, after a successful conversion the hosts were back in front with a 12-10 lead. 

A Nick Cotric error gave New Zealand good field position, and they took no time capitilising. Interim fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck broke the line to score, in a show of strength and determination. Metcalf converted, and New Zealand were 8 in front with only 13 minutes to play, leaving Canberra firmly under the pump.

Backed by a fired-up Christchurch crowd, the iron grip began to tighten and desperate defence shut down any attacking effort The Raiders seemed to make. Although a scrappy last 5 minutes saw Canberra attack New Zealand's line a number of times, a lack of composure blew any fighting chance they had to pull off a miracle win. 

3. Dallin Watene-Zelezniak

Very strong in attack, line break and try assist.

2. Jackson Ford

Monster performance all round. Solid in attack and defence.

1. Jordan Rapana

Easily Canberra's best. Rare attacking spark.