A magical performance by Anthony Milford has inspired the Raiders first victory of the season, a hard-fought 26-20 victory over the Newcastle at Hunter Stadium.
Milford registered an amazing one try assist, three line breaks, nine tackle breaks, 208 metres and two offloads in what was a truly majestic display from fullback.
The Raiders started the match well with Jarrod Croker opening the scoring after the strike centre pounced on a sublime grubber from five-eighth Jack Wighton in the 6th minute of play. Milford was successful with his conversion attempt.
Newcastle hit back shortly after through a try great effort from Akuila Uate, who made the most of the space provided from a terrific cut-out ball by debutant fullback Matt Minto.
Croker had an opportunity to extend the Raiders lead however the try was overturned after it was deemed that the Goulburn Stockmen junior had fumbled the ball in attempting to ground it after catching a towering Wighton bomb.
This opportunity was compounded after Beau Scott broke free off a Michael Dobson short ball to give Newcastle the lead for the first time in the match.
The Raiders were able to level scores after Josh McCrone immediately made his presence felt on the field in the 24th minute. After interchanging with hooker Glen Buttriss, the Country Origin representative darted 25 metres out of dummy half to score a fantastic individual try.
Unfortunately Milford missed with his conversion attempt which entailed that the scores remained at 10 all at halftime.
After a hard-fought opening 10 minutes to the second stanza, Milford brilliantly broke the game open after scything into the clear following a brilliant run from dummy half. The 19 year old stepped through several would-be defenders, burst into the clear and sent Croker away for his second try. Milford’s conversion gave the Green Machine a 16-10 lead.
Milford proved he was human when an in-goal bungle with teammate Reece Robinson enabled winger James McManus to hit back for the Knights.
Tyrone Roberts’ superb individual effort five minutes later then gave the Novocastrians a 20-16 lead. With the vocal home crowd getting behind their side and the clock counting down to the final stages of the match, things looked grim for the Raiders.
Despite staunch defence from Newcastle, Milford, in conjunction with Croker, engineered a brilliant try for interchange forward Paul Vaughan in the 68th minute. The fullback’s light feet and line-breaking ability left Knights’ defenders shaking their heads. Robinson’s conversion gave Canberra a slender two point lead however the result was far from sealed.
After several tense moments, the result was finally sealed in the 79th minute when a great shot by Wighton forced the ball loose and Croker fed the ball out to Edrick Lee who was able to dive over to ensure the first win of the season for the Green Machine, 26-20.
Amidst the many positives to come out of the match, the Raiders suffered some unfortunate news with Josh Papalii leaving the field with an ankle injury and Joel Edwards being put on report for a dangerous tackle on Chris Houston.
Papalii will have scans on his ankle tomorrow to determine the extent of the injury.