Canberra Raiders v New Zealand Warriors on Sunday at 4:15pm at GIO Stadium
Talented Holden Cup five-eighth Lachlan Lewis is hoping that his blossoming scrum base combination with halfback Lachlan Croker will continue to go from strength-to-strength after an impressive initial showing in the side’s 34-32 victory over the Cronulla Sharks in Round 1.
The pair contributed three try assists and two line breaks between them and their intuitive attacking talents and pinpoint kicking games kept the Sharks on their toes for the majority of the contest.
It was Croker though who stole the show with his magical goal kicking exploits.
Trailing by two points and with the crowd giving him all sorts of grief, Croker calmly slotted the conversion from the sideline to level scores at 32 apiece.
Then in the final minute of play, the Raiders were awarded a penalty 32 metres out from in front of the uprights. Just as he had done so previously five minutes earlier, Croker stepped up to the mark with confidence and poise and despite the thousands of voices in the crowd urging him to miss, the 18 year old slotted the penalty goal and delivered victory for the Green Machine.
CLICK HERE to read the Round 1 Match Report.
“He’s a better kicker than I am that’s for sure!” Lewis said modestly. “He was a pretty popular man in the sheds afterwards and hats off to him. He’s a great bloke to be around and a great footballer as well.
“Crokes and I did our jobs but as a team we showed a lot of character in that game to come from eight points behind with less than 10 minutes remaining to eventually win by two. It was a great team effort.”
Whilst it was hard to overlook Croker’s heroics, Lewis’ performance did not go unnoticed. His brilliant attacking instincts, crisp ball service and communication skills proved the perfect foil for Croker.
Ironically, the pair directly opposed each other in last year’s Under 18’s State of Origin fixture.
“We got a couple of games together last year in the Under 20’s before he hurt his knee but we’re really looking to take our combination to the next level this year,” said Lewis, who is studying Engineering at ANU. “We also played against each other in the Under 18’s State of Origin match.
“We had a lot of banter leading into that match which was fun but it’s definitely better to play with him. He’s a great player and someone I love playing with.”
The Green Machine confronts one of the year-in-year-out powerhouses in the Holden Cup this Sunday, the New Zealand Warriors, in the club’s first home match of the year.
Lewis played in the side’s last encounter with New Zealand in Round 21, in which the side was thrashed 54-6 by the Warriors at home. Interestingly, the Warriors were defeated 41-6 by the Newcastle Knights in Round 1 but the side isn’t reading too much into that result.
“Manters [Raiders Coach Mick Mantelli] spoke to us after the game against the Sharks and said that we’ve got to strap our shoulders on this weekend against the Warriors because they’re a big team and are always very strong in the under 20’s,” Lewis said.
“I’m looking forward to having a big game. Mick wants me to take on more of a leadership role this year. He told me that I would be Vice-Captain before the game last week and has given me more of a role this year as I grow into my position. I’ve got plenty more to learn and hopefully I can get a good season under my belt.
“We’re all looking forward to playing at GIO Stadium for the first time this year. There are a lot of guys in the team that haven’t played there before so it will be good to get their parents and friends out to support them.”
CLICK HERE to see the team line-up.