In a high scoring affair, the Canberra Raiders have defeated the top of the table Brisbane Broncos 48-40 at GIO Stadium, after being down by two points at half-time.
The Broncos had only been defeated twice in 2015 and the victory by the 8th placed Raiders provides the side with a great deal of confidence leading into a tough away trip against the Newcastle Knights next weekend.
Boosted by the late return of Lachlan Croker the Raiders started the game strongly getting out to an 18-0 lead within ten minutes however some ill-discipline towards the end of the first half hurt the Green Machine and the Broncos were able to get back into the game.
The Raiders were on the end of a fortunate start to the game after the kick-off from the Broncos went out on the full. The Raiders capitalised on this by using the field position they gained through the penalty to score through Brenko Lee who used his strength to get across the line. The conversion was successful from Zac Woolford for an early 6-0 lead.
It was early back-to-back tries for the Raiders with the Green Machine scoring again in the fifth minute. After the Broncos gave away a penalty for a late hit on Lachlan Croker the Raiders used the repeat set to their advantage and crossed through Jack Hickson, who found space out wide to score in the corner. The extra two were added by Woolford for a 12 point lead.
The scrappy start continued for the Broncos as once again the Raiders were able to capitalise on their mistakes, making it three tries in under ten minutes. Lee put through a grubber kick that he was able to regather after it was fumbled by the Broncos and the strike centre spread it out quickly for Thomas Cronan who scored in the corner. It was 18-0 to the Raiders after Woolford continued his good kicking form.
The Broncos were able to open their account in the 15th minute when fullback Paul Byrnes was able to pounce on a fortunate bounce to score and convert his own try, bringing the score back to a 12 point gap. The Broncos were in again shortly after and the conversion by Jayden Nikorima was spot on, reducing the Raiders’ lead to six.
The Broncos were able to level the scores in the 27th minute when Nikorima made a break down the wing and passed off to winger Jack Tuttle who scored in the corner despite the best efforts of Lachlan Hurst to stop him before the line. The conversion by Nikorima was once again successful to make it 18 points all.
The Broncos dominance continued with interchange forward George Fai finding space in the Raiders defence to give the Broncos the lead for the first time in the game. Nikorima’s perfect kicking continued for a 24-18 lead to the Broncos.
The Raiders were able to hit back right before half-time through some innovative by halfback Lachlan Croker who put through a chip kick, then regathered and kicked again for Cronan who crossed to score his second of the game. With Woolford on the bench, Croker stepped up to the tee for the conversion however missed from the sideline, entailing that the Raiders would go in at half--time down 24-22.
Unfortunately, the Broncos were able to score back-to-back tries at the start of the second half. The first was scored by Tuttle for his second of the game after beating the Raiders defence on the wing and crossing in the corner. The second was scored in the same corner however Nikorima was only able to slot one of the two conversions for a 34-22 lead.
It was then the Raiders turn to score back-to-back tries to level the game up at 34-34. The first try was scored by Tevita Pengai Junior who used his strength to his advantage to barge over the line and score next to the post. The second was scored by Lewis after some great lead up play by Dylan McGrath who found Lewis in open space to score underneath the post. Both tries were converted by Croker to bring the game back level.
The Raiders regained the lead in the 62nd minute thanks to some great play down the right hand flank. Lee started the play off by making a burst and then passing it out to Cronan who then gave the ball back to Lee to score. The conversion was successful from Croker for a six point lead.
The high scoring continued as the Broncos levelled it up again quickly. Nikorima scored after a long run from Jai Arrow who found space out wide and ran 50 metres before passing to Nikorima who scored and converted for the score to be locked up at 40 points each.
After a high shot on Lewis the Raiders elected to take the shot a goal from 20 metres out just to the left of the post and Woolford stepped up and converted for a two point lead to the Raiders with just seven minutes remaining.
A try right on the stroke of full-time for the Raiders wrapped up the game. The try was Lewis’ second of the match with the talented five-eighth able to regather his own kick after it came off the upright and score. The conversion from Croker resulted in a 48-40 win.
Man of the Match: Tevita Pangai Junior
Canberra Raiders 48 (Cronan 2, Lee 2, Lewis 2, Hickson, Pengai Junior, Tries; Woolford 4/4 Croker 3/4 Goals) defeated Brisbane Broncos 40