Harold Matthews (Under 16s)
Newcastle Knights 38 defeated Canberra Raiders 24 at Campbelltown Stadium
The Canberra Raiders have succumbed to a 14 point loss to a red-hot Newcastle Knights outfit in the first week of semi-finals.
Newcastle is the benchmark in the Harold Matthews competition having finished first place on the ladder and boasting an unbelievable average of 40 points per game in attack.
Fortunately for the Raiders is the fact that they receive a second chance this weekend as a reward for their fourth place finish to the regular season.
The loss to the Knights in the qualifying final has now provided the talented young Raiders with a clear indication of what is required to beat the best in the competition.
The Knights took a 16-6 lead into half-time and closed the game out in the second stanza 38-24.
Although Coach Adam Kyle believes that his side were well below their best on Saturday, they can take confidence from the fact that despite this, they were able to match it with the Knights at stages throughout the contest.
“It was a good learning curve for the boys,” Kyle said. “Newcastle finished on top of the league for a reason so it’s good for the boys to see that even though we didn't play our best we could still compete with them in patches.
“Newcastle were very structured; their halves and hooker really guided them around the park well and their go-forward was really strong from their forward pack.
“We played some decent footy in patches and scored some great tries but we need to get back to working hard in our defence and make sure that we do the basics really well.
Whilst the Green Machine receives a life line this Saturday against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at St Mary’s, it is do-or-die from now on and Kyle is confident that his troops can handle the pressure.
“Again it's a good learning curve for the boys but it will be a big challenge coming up against a big South Sydney pack,” Kyle said. “We played against them a few weeks ago and the game finished really tightly. We just need to make sure that we turn up with a good attitude and be prepared to trade sets.”
Newcastle 38 (Matthew Cooper 2, Tom Starling 2, Jayden Hocking, Nicholas O’Meley, Joel Taylor tries; Brendan O’Hagan 5 goals) def. Canberra 24 (Nikola Cotric, Samuel Finnegan, Jai Lyons, Mathew Lyons tries; Nikola Cotric 3, Daniel Keir goals)
SG Ball (Under 18s)
Newcastle Knights 46 defeated Canberra Raiders 28 at Campbelltown Stadium
The Canberra Raiders SG Ball side’s season has ended after going down to a talented Newcastle Knights team, 46-28 at Campbelltown Stadium.
After scoring an amazing 202 points in their last four outings, the Raiders came into the match full of confidence and had the Knights defence on high alert.
Similarly, Newcastle had proven their attacking prowess throughout the year and in a high scoring affair the Knights backline faired the better on the day and outpointed their Raiders counterparts eight tries to six.
Fullback Ngangarra Barker, centre Braden Robson and winger John Mackin all scored doubles for the Knights whilst their five-eighth Brock Lamb slotting seven goals from eight conversion attempts.
Canberra battled bravely throughout the contest however it just wasn’t to be their day and in the sudden death nature of the qualifying final, their out of character performance ultimately ended their season.
There were frequent highlights throughout the year for the talented and eager to learn Canberra squad. Whilst they will be bitterly disappointed that their season has ended prematurely, every squad member deserves to hold their heads up high due to their individual development over the course of the season.
Despite their SG Ball commitments finishing this may not be the last time that some of these players wear the lime green jersey for the year with Raiders High Performance Manager David Hamilton predicting that many will go onto play in the National Youth Competition as early as this year.
One of those players will surely be the side’s five-eighth and captain Lachlan Croker.
The Goulburn product again registered a hat-trick of tries which coupled with his four conversions combined for a personal points tally of 20.
Newcastle 46 (Ngangarra Barker 2, John Mackin 2, Braden Robson 2, Tyrone Amey, Faitotao Faitotao tries; Brock Lamb 7 goals) def. Canberra 28 (Lachlan Croker 3, Thomas Cronan, Cleveland McGhie tries; Lachlan Croker 4 goals)