Three tries to hat-trick hero Harry van Dartel catapulted the Raiders to a brilliant 34-24 victory over the Newcastle Knights this afternoon at GIO Stadium.
Highly rated young forward Emre Guler came into the Raiders team for the match having only recently moved to the capital from the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Sebastian Kris also returned to the team at centre after missing the last few rounds through injury.
Canberra’s defence was the first to crack after the hosts had control of the ball just once in the opening five minutes. Newcastle struck through backrower Sam Stone, as he swooped on a bouncing ball to score untouched. Jake McNamara added the extras to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders found themselves on the back foot in the opening stages before Man of the Match van Dartel danced his way through the Newcastle defence to score a superb individual try to get the home side on the front foot. Zac Woolford’s conversion collected the uprights, allowing the Knights to maintain a two-point advantage.
The exciting winger found himself on the end of an overlap to score his second try just three minutes later to give his side the lead. Woolford’s conversion was waved away, giving Canberra an 8-6 lead after twenty minutes.
Jack Murchie leapt high in the air to collect a bouncing ball in the in-goal area, snatching the Steeden to score Canberra’s third try of the match. Woolford made no mistakes with the conversion, as the hosts took a 14-6 lead.
Thomas Cronan found himself on the inside of a miraculous flick pass to score Canberra’s fourth, with Woolford’s conversion handing the hosts a 20-6 lead heading into the main break.
The visitors drew first blood in the second stanza when Brayden Musgrove went over untouched in the corner, before McNamara’s conversion cut the deficit to eight.
Newcastle’s early four-pointer got the visitors on the front foot, and centre Henry Penn took advantage when he crossed in the 51st minute. McNamara added the extras, and the game was hanging in the balance.
Canberra needed someone to deliver with the margin reduced to two, and Daniel Dole answered the call for the Green Machine. A barnstorming run saw the front rower cross for his first four-pointer, before van Dartel cruised over the line for his third try of the day. Woolford’s conversion stretched the lead to fourteen inside the final twenty minutes.
Newcastle’s halves pairing ensured that there was another twist to come in the outcome of the contest, with McNamara converting Hayden Herbert’s try to reduce the deficit to eight with fourteen minutes left on the clock.
A late penalty goal to Zac Woolford sealed the match for the young Raiders as they clinched their fourth win in their last five games.
Canberra Raiders 34 (van Dartel 3, Murchie, Cronan, Dole tries; Woolford 4 goals, 1 pen) def Newcastle Knights 24 (Stone, Musgrove, Penn, Herbert tries; McNamara 4 goals)