The Canberra Raiders Holden Cup side has secured a place in the semi-finals with a comprehensive 44-18 win over the Parramatta Eels at Pirtek Stadium in the final round of the regular season.
Promising back-rower Kalani Going starred for the Raiders with a hat-trick of tries whilst Tevita Pangai Junior and Thomas Cronan also delivered strong performances with both players registering a double.
In addition to his two tries, Pangai Junior also created three more tries for team mates in a brilliant all-round display.
After both sides traded blows for the opening 15 minutes the Eels broke the deadlock when Abbas Miski found space on the wing following a cut-out pass and scored in the corner. Parramatta’s lead stayed at 4-0 following the unsuccessful conversion.
The Raiders were able to level scores in the 25th minute when Going was put through a gap by a short Lachlan Lewis pass and then spun out of two tackles to score. The conversion from Zac Woolford was successful to give the Green Machine a two point lead.
Unfortunately, the Eels regained the lead back five minutes before half-time when centre Nathan Davis scored after a quick pass from dummy half by Josh Grant found the Raiders napping down the short side. The conversion was again unsuccessful to leave the score at 8-6 in favour of Parramatta.
With their season on the line, the Raiders refused to lie down and took the lead back right on the stroke of half-time when Pangai Junior used his strength to hold off four Eels defenders and barged over the line to score next to the posts. With the conversion from Woolford sailing over it was a four point lead to the Raiders at half-time.
The Raiders came out from half-time looking determined and extended their lead in the 45th minute when Pangai Junior put Dylan McGrath into a hole and the tough halfback made a 20 metre run before finding Going on his outside to score his second of the match. Woolford missed the conversion to leave the score at 16-8.
The Raiders scored their third unanswered try four minutes later when Cronan made a burst down the wing to score after Woolford created an overlap. Woolford was successful with the conversion for a 14 point lead to the Green Machine.
The dominance was starting to show as the Raiders crossed yet again when utility Jack Hickson took a smart dart from dummy half and scored despite three defenders trying to stop him. McGrath’s conversion was successful to give the Raiders a 28-8 lead.
After a period of attacking domination the Eels were able to hit back in the 60th minute when hooker Zach Dockar-Clay scored under the posts and then converted his own try to reduce the gap back to 14.
The Raiders restored their advantage in the 66th minute after Pangai Junior sent a brilliant cut out pass to Cronan on the wing. McGrath again converted in the absence of Woolford to give the Raiders a 20 point lead.
Pangai Junior then went from creator to scorer when he scored his second of the game off a short run which the Eels were unable to stop. Woolford was unsuccessful with the conversion leaving the score at 38-14 in the Raiders’ favour.
The Eels refused to go down quietly and scored again in the 74th minute when winger Antini Gafa scored on the back of a 40/20 from five-eighth Michael Doolan. Dockar-Clay was unsuccessful with the conversion entailing that the Eels were still 20 points behind.
Canberra had the last laugh however with Going securing his hat-trick in the final minute of play. Much to the delight of his onlooking team mates, front-rower Brett Soloman slotted the goal from close to in front to cap off a 44-18 win and a place in the 2015 finals series.
Canberra Raiders 44 (Going 3, Cronan 2, Pangai Junior 2, Hickson Tries; Woolford 3/5 McGrath 2/2 Soloman 1/1 Goals) defeated Parramatta Eels 14 (Miski, Davis, Dockar-Clay, Gafa Tries; Dockar-Clay 1/4 Goals)