The Canberra Raiders have come from behind against reigning premiers, South Sydney, to claim arguably their biggest scalp of the season 30-22 up in Cairns on Sunday afternoon.
The Rabbitohs looked to have blown Canberra out of the contest in the first half with three quick tries giving them the early lead. Sydney’s forward pack looked powerful all game, making easy metres through the middle and the Raiders looked down for the count.
Yet for a second week in a row the Green Machine have shown they will never lie down no matter what the game situation. Coming back from being 12 points down at half time to being 8 point victors against the Rabbitohs.
The first half belonged to South Sydney, even though the Green Machine had made such a positive start to the match.
The scoring started early with the Raiders taking advantage of a penalty conceded by Sydney. Sisa Waqa gave to ball off to Jordan Rapana through quick hands who showed his attacking ability. Running hard at the on-coming defenders, Rapana managed to fend off two of them and put the ball down just inside the touch line. Canberra got the perfect start and led 4-0 after the conversion was unsuccessful from captain Croker.
After Canberra scored the first points, it was all South Sydney from then on scoring the next three tries for the half.
The first try came from a short ball from Luke Keary onto Mcqueen who muscled his way over the try line just next to the uprights. Isaac Luke converted to take the lead 6-4.
Shortly after in the 26th minute Luke Keary was again assisting the try scorer. A perfect kick was sent up behind the advancing Raiders defence which saw Bryson Goodwin catch and place the ball down untouched. Isaac again converted but from a tougher angle to make the lead 12-4.
The last try of the half for Sydney came from a barnstorming run down the left edge by Chris Mcqueen. After breaking down the left edge Mcqueen was tackled just 5 metres out from the try line. Greg Inglis then received the ball from dummy half who palmed off his defender to score easily.
Canberra was now left a difficult come back task going into the second half being down 16-4.
Although it seemed like an up-hill battle the Green Machine came out and did exactly what was needed and scored first.
Just two minutes into the second half jack Wighton breaks his way through the line and offloads to the hard running Edrick Lee who scored in the corner. Canberra needed the conversion but Croker was unable to deliver and the lead was reduced to 16-8.
Canberra looked like an inspired side as they then scored back to back tries against the reigning premiers. Kurt Baptiste broke his way through the line from dummy half and offloaded to Edrick Lee who came within metres of scoring.
Then the man who inspired the Raiders last week did it again and Shannon Boyd bowled over defenders using his sheer strength to place the ball down on the line. The Raiders were then only two points behind after the conversion was successful from Jarrod Croker, the score was then 16-14.
Against the run of play and to the detriment of the Green Machine, South Sydney were then able to score their 4th try. Goodwin then broke down the left hand side again and put in a grubber to Luke Keary to score his first of the afternoon. South Sydney then earned some extra breathing space with a lead of 22-14.
The Raiders refused to lay down and Josh Papalii put Canberra right back into the contest. After a quick play the ball, Blake Austin spotted a gap and gave the ball off to the hard running Papalii who split the gap and scored under the posts. The easy conversion was taken by Jarrod Croker and again it was game on at 22-20.
The Green Machine then looked the most dangerous they did all match and in the 65th minute they again hit the lead.
Sisa Waqa came out of dummy half and the South Sydney defenders couldn’t keep up. An offload inside to Papalii, then another pass to the support player in Blake Austin saw Canberra score back to back tries to take the lead. Unfortunately Croker hit the uprights when converting but the Raiders took the lead 24-22.
As the time began ticking down the Raiders earned themselves a penalty 25 metres out from right in front and opted to take the penalty to make it a four point ball game 26-22.
With Canberra on the front foot and running the length of the field the Green Machine then put the game beyond doubt.
The ball came out to Williams who kicked the ball high behind Sydney’s edge defence, Edrick Lee then climbed high and scored for the Green Machine. The conversion was kicked wide by Croker but it didn’t matter as the Raiders ran out eight point winners 30-22.
The confidence that Ricky Stuart has instilled in the playing group is evident through the efforts over the past two weeks. Coming back from deficits of over 10 points and coming through with the win two weeks in a row is a real testament to the playing group, and how much they’ve improved over the course of the season so far.
With the Raiders getting two tough wins away from home, they are in a strong position to make it a hat trick of wins at home against the Titans next weekend.