A consummate team performance has seen the Canberra Raiders defeat the Newcastle Knights 36-22 in front of a crowd of 6,015 at GIO Stadium in the club’s first Friday night game for the season.
A first half hat-trick to Blake Austin, a second half double to Josh Papalii and some strong defence while under pressure from the Newcastle side were the highlights from the Raiders in what was a thoroughly dominant performance.
The Raiders got off to a fantastic start scoring in just the 2nd minute of the game. In their first set of six, the Green Machine were able to exploit somespace down the wing with both Jordan Rapana running down the wing before the ball was passed back inside for Austin to score. The conversion was successful from Jarrod Croker for a 6-0 lead.
It was a quick double for the Austin in the 7th minute when Paul Vaughan popped a lovely offload and the ever-present five-eighth was able to step around Kurt Gidley and score under the posts. Croker converted again for a twelve point lead.
It was three unanswered tries for the Raiders and a hat-trick to Austin within 15 minutes when he pounced upon a perfectly weighted grubber from Sam Williams to again score under the posts. With the Croker conversion successful it was 18-0 to the Raiders.
Strong Raiders defence was able to prevent the Knights being able to capitalise from their attacking field position for much of the first stanza.
The Raiders continued to show their dominance with a fourth unanswered try when Croker was able to collect a well weighted grubber by Josh Hodgson and get the ball down before the dead ball line. Croker converted his own try to give the Raiders a 24 point lead.
The Knights were able to get onto the board in the 30th minute when James McManus scored after he was able to pounce on a loose ball and dive across at short range. The conversion missed leaving the half-time score at 24-4.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first with the Raiders crossing in just the 43rd minute. Williams was able to put Papalii into space with an offload which allowed the Queensland representative to score. The conversion from Croker was again successful for a 26 point lead to the Raiders.
Another try for the Raiders followed as the side continued to convert attacking field position into points. Papalii scored his second of the match after he was able to get to another well weighted grubber kick from Williams. The flawless kicking from Croker continued extending the side’s lead to 32 points.
The Knights hit back in the 54th minute when Akuila Uate scored in the corner after a cut-out pass found him in space. Tyrone Roberts able to convert to reduce the Raiders’ lead to 36-10.
Strong defence was on show once again with the Raiders able to hold out several repeat sets.
The defence was eventually broken by the Knights in the 66th minute. After having most of the possession for a large period of time, Kane Snowden crossed under the post and Roberts converted to bring the game back to 36-16.
On the back of a mistake by the Raiders 20 metres away from their own try-line the Knights were able to score again through Uate, his second of the game.
Roberts converted to make it a 14 point gap with six minutes to go but the Raiders were able to take out the game with some tenacious defence.
Man of the Match: David Shillington
Canberra Raiders 36 (Austin 3, Papalii 2, Croker, Tries; Croker 6/6 Goals) defeated Newcastle Knights 22 (Uate 2, McManus, Snowden Tries; Roberts 3/4 Goals)