The Raiders U20’s have secured a finals spot after crushing the Manly Sea Eagles 56-22 at Brookvale Oval.
Brett White made three late changes to the team, welcoming back Thomas Cronan and William Samuel in place of Andre Niko and Daniel Dole. Bailey Hartwig also came into the starting team, shifting captain Zac Woolford back to the bench.
After an early scare when a Manly try was called back for a forward pass, it was the Raiders who were able to post the first four-pointer after 10 minutes. Second-rower Jack Murchie blasted across from close range after some great lead up work from William Samuel and Jack Williams. Hartwig, taking over kicking duties from Woolford, missed the tough conversion.
It wasn’t going all the Raiders way, with Manly showing very promising signs on attack. The home squad went close to scoring their first, before it was again called back again for a forward pass. Winger Luke Polselli made amends a couple of sets later when he caught the Raiders napping on the outside and scored in the corner.
White opted to bring Woolford on 20 minutes into the half, and he made an immediate impact. Scurrying out of dummyhalf, Woolford passed to Harry Van Dartel who broke through Manly’s defence with ease. Showing off a wicked turn of pace, Van Dartel burnt the fullback and crashed over for a brilliant solo try.
Momentum was all with the green machine, and it was Woolford who was creating havoc. Murchie, Van Dartel and Foster all scored in quick succession as the Raiders blew the Sea Eagles off the park. Sione Afemui added another late try as the Raiders headed into the sheds for half-time leading 30-4.
Manly started with a bang in the second-half, posting two tries in quick succession to cut the Raiders lead to two converted tries. The Raiders soon dashed Manly’s slim comeback hopes when Nick Cotric, Thomas Cronan and Seb Kris all scored in quick succession.
The rout continued and Manly’s issues were compounded by the sin-binning of Darcy Cox. Van Dartel crossed for his hat-trick in the later stages of the match as the Raiders continued to pile on the points.
With a finals spot now secure, the Raiders can look forward to a tough test against the West Tigers next Sunday at Leichardt Oval.
Canberra Raiders 56 (Murchie 2, Van Dartel 3, Foster, Afemui Cotric, Kris, Cronan, Hickson. Hartwig 0/2, Woolford 6/9) defeated Manly Sea Eagles 22 (Polselli, Tuivati, Bainbridge, Tufui. Hynes 3/4)