The Canberra Raiders have recorded a strong home performance defeating the North Queensland Cowboys 36-14 at GIO Stadium.
The Cowboys came into the round 17 clash sitting in 4 th on the ladder whilst the Raiders were sitting in 13th . Only six points separated both teams on the ladder as the win for the Raiders now places them four points away from the top four, although they remain out of the top eight.
Canberra welcomed back fullback Harry Van Dartel into the starting line-up and origin representative Sebastian Kris also returned for the Raiders in the centres.
North Queensland were first to strike points when fullback Kalyn Ponga provided a nice pass for Michael Carroll to slice through and score. Jake Clifford’s conversion struck the post and the score remained 4-0 to the away side after 9 minutes.
Four minutes later Raiders captain Kalani Going levelled the scores when he was set up by Lachlan Cooper. Andre Niko’s successful conversion put the home side ahead by two points after 14 minutes of play.
Raiders forward Daniel Keir extended the Raiders lead when he crashed over after a strongeffort just next to the posts. Niko made no mistake with his second conversion and made it 12-4 to the home side after 16 minutes.
North Queensland found it hard to break down the Raiders attack as the home side went from strength to strength as they found their third try, this time through Zac Masters, who received a great pass on the inside from Erin Clark.
The Raiders were grinding away at the Cowboys late in the first half and a clever kick from Harry Van Dartel gave the Raiders a repeat set with 7 minutes left in the first half.
They failed to capitalise that set, however on the stroke of half time a break from Jack Murchie put Van Dartel over to score for his first of the afternoon.
The Raiders went into the sheds with a 24-4 lead over the visitors.
The second half was slower to get going as both teams were trying to find their paces, however the Raiders eventually found the form they had in the first period and scored under the posts through a debut try from new signing Erin Clark.
At 30-4 with twenty minutes remaining in the match the Cowboys struck twice in quick succession, as Kurt Wiltshire scored a nice move in the corner and then two minutes later fullback Kalyn Ponga gave them a glimmer of hope, when he darted through the Raiders defence from 35 metres out.
The Raiders however prevented any further onslaughts and kept a raging Cowboys from making a comeback.
A late try to Raiders winger Komiti Tuilagi sealed the deal for the home team in a much-needed win.
Van Dartel kicked converted the final try from the sideline as the Raiders were perfect all afternoon with the boot kicking 6/6.
Next week both teams will receive a much-needed bye as they both continue to push for a finals spot.
New Raiders Hooker Erin Clark was named man of the match.
Canberra Raiders 36 (Going, Keir, Masters, Van Dartel, Clark, Tuilagi, Niko 5/5, Van Dartel
1/1) defeat North Queensland Cowboys 14 (Carroll, Wiltshire, Ponga, Clifford 1/3)