A double to winger Wesley Tameifuna has catapulted the Canberra Raiders U20s to a come-from-behind 18-12 victory over the high-flying St George Illawarra Dragons in the NYC at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
The first of the Tongan’s pair of four-pointers handed the Raiders the lead for the first time in the game six minutes into the second stanza when he bustled over on the left edge as Canberra pocketed a 10-8 lead.
The Raiders then continued to stun the second-placed Dragons through a Sebastain Kris try stemming from an exciting passage of play down the left edge in the 66 th minute.
They wasted no time in again exposing the visitors’ right wing, Tameifuna dotting down for his second try of the night less than two minutes later as the Raiders clinched a 10-point buffer at 18-8.
The Dragons would breathe fire when fleet-footed centre Reuben Garrick tap-danced his way through the Raiders’ left-edge defence to reduce the deficit to 18-12, but the men in green would sneak home six-point winners to keep their finals hopes alive.
St George drew first blood 15 minutes in to pick the lock on a lengthy tug-of- war exchange to open proceedings, prop Stuart Mason crashing over from close range before halfback Jackson Willis extended the Red V’s lead to 6-0.
Raiders five-eighth Paul Roache threaded a perfectly weighted grubber to force a goal-line drop-out in the 27 th minute, but a soaring 65-metre drop-kick had fullback Harry Van Dartel backtracking before the Raiders spilled their lollies later in the set.
A Canberra error followed five minutes later which would see Willis bang over a penalty goal and hand the joint-venture outfit an 8-0 lead during a first-half period in which both sides struggled to keep grasp of the ball.
Brett White’s men would wrestle back momentum in the shadows of the half-time break when a front-rower of their own – man mountain Fabien Paletua-Kiri – barraged through a frail Dragons defence to cross under the posts inside two minutes of the break.
Andre Niko made no mistake from the tee before the Raiders headed into the sheds trailing 8-6.
The Green Machine continued to go from a trundle to a hurtle early in the second stanza when Tameifuna crossed for his first try of the clash to ignite the Raiders’ second-half surge.
The Raiders are now set to host the Melbourne Storm next Saturday afternoon.