2021 Preview: St George Illawarra Dragons
4 hours ago | Justin Davies
The Canberra Raiders survived a first half attacking barrage from the New Zealand Warriors to win 20-8 in front of 13,996 fans at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
It's the defence Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will be most pleased by, which kept the score at halftime to just 8-6 in favour of the Warriors.
The visitors had 58 per cent of possession in the first half and New Zealand appeared to finally claim their second try of the match in the 36th minute when Roger Tuivasa-Sheck broke through the middle of the defence.
He intentionally ran diagonally across the field for his best chance to get over the try line, a one-on-one contest with Jarrod Croker.
The captain-on-captain collision produced an inspiring stop on Tuivasa-Sheck as Croker rolled him onto his back to prevent the try.
It was the Raiders that started the second half with momentum as Shaun Johnson made an unforced error in the opening set.
The scores were tied in the 51st minute from a Croker penalty goal which contributed to the 14 unanswered points the Raiders put on in the second half.
Joseph Leilua staked his case for a NSW Origin debut and an Australian jersey for next month's test match against New Zealand in Canberra, with two solo tries and eight tackle breaks.
His second try in the 59th minute put the Raiders ahead for good as he punished the visitor's defence for backing away and sliding to the corner for the threat of Jordan Rapana.
Handling errors continued to dent New Zealand's comeback hopes as it killed off their attempts to apply pressure.
After making 151 metres in the first half, 50 metres more than any other player, Tuivasa-Sheck was shut down by the defence in the second half as he recorded just 18 run metres.
Kieran Foran and Johnson combined many times but failed to create try scoring opportunities for their teammates.
Last time these teams met the Raiders led 22-4 with 10 minutes left and the Warriors scored three quick tries to force extra time.
Tonight, Hodgson scooted out from dummy half in the 66th minute to score a try that seemingly put his side out of reach for the Warriors, which was an 18-8 lead with Croker's successful conversion kick.
Jack Wighton played his 100th NRL game and he played strong despite a couple of first half errors.
Next week the Raiders play the Manly Sea Eagles on Friday night at GIO Stadium, while the Warriors will look for their first away win of the season when they clash with the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park for the traditional ANZAC day match.
Canberra Raiders 20 - Warriors 8
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
Halftime Score: Canberra Raiders 6 Warriors 8
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Joseph Leilua
2 points - Josh Hodgson
1 points - Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
CANBERRA RAIDERS (20)
Tries: Joseph Leilua (2), Josh Hodgson
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (2/2)
Tries: Ryan Hoffman
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (2/2)