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3 hours ago | Tim Costello
The Canberra Raiders have withstood a spirited comeback to down the Cronulla Sharks 22-20 at GIO Stadium, despite scoring less tries than their opponents.
Jack Wighton was more diamonds than rocks on Thursday night as he looked to cement his spot in Brad Fittler's Blues squad.
While kicking it out on the full in a set after points, the five-eighth was at his creative best otherwise with a hand in two tries.
The Raiders and NSW Blues will be sweating on scans though after winger Nick Cotric went down with an ankle injury in the second half.
At that point the game was in the balance, a surprise after Cronulla's error-riddled start to the game saw them slump to an early 20-0 deficit.
After opting for the two points early, the Raiders then added the first try of the night when Aidan Sezer took on the line and reached out to score in the 9th minute.
A mistake from Kurt Capewell then brought Canberra back into the Cronulla red zone and they immediately capitalised.
Jack Wighton threw it long to Jarrod Croker who then sent a flying Bailey Simonsson over in the corner.
Wighton was at it again moments later, this time playing it short for Croker who bagged a try of his own.
A late lapse from the home side invited Cronulla back into the contest and they took full advantage, posting two tries before the break.
The first came when Chad Townsend spotted space behind the Canberra defensive line to kick through for Josh Dugan.
A late Wade Graham offload then saw Josh Morris surge over to reduce the deficit to 12 at the break.
Some have suggested that Townsend would be a welcome addition to the Origin side if selected. Both his blessing and curse, however, is that he continues to fly under the radar.
But he led from the front on Thursday night, putting a charging Braden Hamlin-Uele over under the posts for the first try of the second half.
Suddenly Cronulla locked things up as Johnson played it short to Dugan who stormed over out wide.
In the end, despite scoring more tries the Sharks fell short, a late Croker penalty goal the difference.
Canberra Raiders 22 - Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 20
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
Halftime Score: Canberra Raiders 20 Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 8
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Papalii
2 points - Chad Townsend
1 points - Jack Wighton
CANBERRA RAIDERS (22)
Tries: Jarrod Croker, Aidan Sezer, Bailey Simonsson
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (3/3)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (2/2)
CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS (20)
Tries: Josh Dugan (2), Josh Morris, Braden Hamlin-Uele
Conversions: Shaun Johnson (2/4)