The Canberra Raiders NYC team has managed to overcome their poor road record to complete a strong away victory against the Cronulla Sharks.
It was just the Raiders 3rd win away from home in 12 attempts but you wouldn’t have been able to tell with the Raiders looking more than comfortable in the fixture. The only worry out of the game was an injury to Andrew Heffernan who suffered a head knock when he tried to make a try saving tackle.
He was one of a number of changes for Mick Mantelli’s side. With Thomas Cronan joining him in the starting line-up with Ricky Garard moving onto the bench.
The boys were missing their main strike weapon in Lachlan Hurst but there was no lack of firepower in the Raiders attack who ran in four tries in the first half to wrestle the game away from the Sharks.
Heffernan showed plenty of quality when he made the most of the Raiders early possession slicing through to score under the posts. Patrick Mago was able to convert the try to give the Raiders a 6-0 after five minutes.
Heffernan was again the game changer when he raced 80 metres down the field to set up the Raiders next attack. With the Sharks at 6’s and 7’s a nice backline play saw Jono Kent score out wide. Mago missed the conversion to give the Raiders a 10 point lead after 21 minutes.
Moments later the Raiders were in again with Kent shimmying his way to the line to grab himself a double. Mago converted the try to hand the Raiders a 16-0 lead.
Finlay Dibley looked like he had cut the lead back for the Sharks only to lose the ball on his way to the line. It proved costly as Lachlan Lewis was able to turn good field position into points down the other end for the Raiders.
Mago converted the try to take the Raiders out to a commanding 22 point lead. It was a textbook first half from the boys who relished the return of their stars.
In contrast to the first half the Sharks were able to get some quality possession early. Jamayne Isaako made the most of their field possession when he stormed his way over the line. He converted his own try to bring the deficit back to 16.
Heffernan left the field shortly after the try after suffering a head knock while trying to tackle Isaako. It didn’t slow the boys down though with Cronan making the most of his chance on the wing, when he found some space following an offload from Jack Creith.
Mago struck the upright with the conversion leaving the Raiders’ lead at 20.
Dibley hit back for the Sharks when they decided to chance their arm and pass the ball around, Dibley found the hole in the Raiders’ defence to score out wide. Isaako converted the try to bring the Raiders lead back to 14 points mid-way through the second half.
When it looked like the Sharks were getting a sniff it was quickly extinguished with Luke Bateman perfectly executing a short ball to Jack Williams who raced thirty metres to score. Mago converted the try to take the Raiders to a 32-12 lead after 63 minutes.
Consecutive sets then saw our boys put the game to bed with a perfectly executed play seeing Creith find Cronan unmarked on his outside. Mago was having a good day with the boot as he added another two points to take the Raiders out to their biggest lead of the game.
Isaako was putting in a good individual performance for the home side and he managed to cut the lead back when he bagged his second try for the game. He missed the conversion leaving the Raiders with a 38-16 lead.
Kent then forced a drop out with a perfectly executed restart, a nice backline nearly saw the Raiders score down the left hand side but an error from Williams released the pressure on the Sharks.
There was then a push and a shove with both sides meeting with things getting a little heated, it resulted in the Raiders being awarded a penalty for Kent being pushed during the play the ball.
Neither side was able to add any more points in the fixture with the Raiders completing a 22 point victory running out 38-16 winners. Kent put in one of his best performances for the Raiders this season, while Heffernan was in damaging form before he left the field early in the second half.
Next week the Raiders will return home to see if they can upset the West Tigers at GIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Canberra Raiders 38
Tries: Kent 2, Cronan 2, Heffernan, Lewis, Williams; Mago 5 goals
Cronulla Sharks 16
Tries: Isaako 2, Dibley; Isaako 2 goals