NRL Match Report: Raiders hold on to beat Roosters
The Canberra Raiders have held on to claim an important 24-16 win over the Sydney Roosters at GIO Stadium on Sunday evening.
Starting the match on 1496 career points, it took just 30 minutes for the 26 year old to surpass 1500 points and become just the first Raider to achieve such a feat. The moment is sure to be special for the Goulburn junior who only just played his 200th NRL match last week.
Both teams were also suffering from the loss of the origin stars with Josh Papalii missing for the Raiders and a host of stars out for the Roosters.
As the siren sounded to start the match, the Raiders were put on the back foot almost straight away after Latrell Mitchell crossed over after just two minutes only to be denied by the video referee.
The Roosters carried this momentum for the opening quarter and cashed in on the early field possession when captain and milestone man Jake Friend, crossed over from dummy half to open the scoring in his 200th NRL match.
From here however, the Green Machines engine started to rumble after Jordan Rapana got them on the board in the 13th minute.
An offload from Junior Paulo was picked up by Elliot Whitehead, who quickly found a rampaging Rapana on the wing to secure the Raiders first points of the match. Croker made no mistake from the sideline to tie the game at 6-apiece.
Just 10 minutes later and off the back of a bone crunching tackle for Sia Soliola, the Raiders once again found themselves in enemy territory and wasted no time making the most of it.
After shifting the ball from winger to winger, Jordan Rapana received the ball in open pasture after a Joey Leilua off load to record up his second try for the day, slamming the ball down more than once just to make sure. Croker was unsuccessful with the conversion, to keep the scores at 10-6.
With just 10 minutes remaining before half time, the Raiders once again found themselves on the attack and testing the Roosters defensive line.
It was a pinpoint grubber kick from Blake Austin that would penetrate the line, closely followed by Jarrod Croker who pounced on the ball to score his 5th for the season and become the first Raider in history to surpass 1500 career points.
Croker made no mistake this time converting to bring the scores to 16-6 not long before both teams retired to the dressing rooms for half time.
As the game resumed after half time, both teams fell back into an arm wrestle for field territory, which saw the forwards of each team battle it out in the middle as they attempted to gain an advantage over the other.
Unforced errors and some great try saving defence on either end of the field frustrated the players as the deadlock moved into the final quarter of the game.
But it was the tri colours that would be first to score after half time with Joseph Manu flying past the corner post in the 62nd minute to record the Roosters first points since the 9th minute of the match.
Michael Gordon blocked out the chants from the fiery Raiders home crowd to guide the ball over the posts and put the Roosters back within a try at 16-12.
A mistake by the Roosters in their own half put the Raiders on the attack with just 12 minutes remaining in the match. A high tackle on Raiders rake Josh Hodgson drew a penalty right in front of the posts with the Raiders opting for the two points to give themselves a six point buffer with 18-12.
With six minutes remaining Luke Keary put fullback Michael Gordon through a big hole, running 60 metres before passing to Latrell Mitchel who planted the ball down in the corner.
Gordon had a chance to tie the match with the conversion. With the ball sitting on the sideline and the booming drums of the Raiders supporters in his ear, Gordon pushed the kick wide to keep the scores at 18-16 with just five minute remaining.
With just two points the difference and just one-minute remaining the Roosters turned the attacking power to full in a last ditch bid to win the game. Swinging the ball desperately trying to find the match-winning try.
However it would be the Raiders who get the match-winning try after Aidan Sezer jumped on a loose ball to run 20 metres and put the ball down simultaneously with the full time siren although you could only hear the elated cheers of a full GIO Stadium celebrating the Raiders winning 24-16.
The Raiders will now travel to Brookvale where they come up against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at 2pm next Sunday.