The Raiders have defeated the Warriors 26 – 14 in a fiery clash at GIO Stadium as the NRL celebrated Women in League round.
The win keeps the Raiders in contention for a top-four spot, but the Warriors didn’t go down easily despite their finals hopes out of reach in 2020, as Raiders fans acknowledged the Warriors season, clapping them onto the field.
Both teams were fired up as they came together several times throughout the match, with the Raiders conceding seven penalties in the first half and Jack Wighton getting put in the bin.
The Raiders made an early interchange when George Williams was pulled from the field for a HIA, with Hudson Young getting an early start in the first 10. Williams wouldn’t return to the field after failing his HIA.
The Warriors were first on the board off the back of a Raiders error when Peta Hiku slid into the in-goal, grounding a Kodi Nikorima kick after 10 minutes of play. Chanel Harris-Tavita successfully converted for a 6 – 0 lead to the visitors.
The Warriors went on the attack again, helped down the field by a penalty against the Raiders, but the green brick wall held on this time and they worked it away from their in-goal.
The Raiders earned their only penalty of the first half, deep inside Warriors territory, off an Elliott Whitehead bomb that was spilled into an offside player.
Raiders Captain Jarrod Croker made the Warriors pay for their error, getting his team on the board after 15 minutes, collecting a head knock for his troubles. The Captain was slow to get to his feet but converted his own try to lock in the scores at 6 – 6 before he was taken off for a HIA.
An error by Semi Valemei and a penalty against the Raiders gave the Warriors a chance at goal to retake the lead at 8 – 6.
Tensions were high at GIO as the teams erupted for the second time after 35 minutes of play. The Warriors won another penalty for the trouble and further extended their lead 10 – 6 with another penalty goal.
Another penalty to the Warriors for a hair pull by Josh Papalii, followed by a set restart and another penalty against the Raiders, Wighton was then sent to the sin bin for being offside as the Warriors threatened their line again.
The visitors took the opportunity and capitalised off the Raiders reduced defence as Hiku crashed over for his second of the day, extending their lead to 14 – 6 with a missed conversion.
The Warriors looked like scoring a number of times as the Raiders defence scrambled to keep them out with both of their halves still off the field.
Valemei took an intercept off a Warrior's offload and ran 90 metres to score to get his team back into the match with eight to go before the break. Croker couldn’t convert as the scores were locked in at 14 – 10.
Hudson Young slid over under the posts off the back of a Whitehead kick to level the scores at 14 all, and a successful conversion by Croker put the Raiders in front for the first time in the clash.
With Williams and Wighton off the field, it was Whitehead’s kicks that created the opportunities for the Raiders and helped to keep their side in the game.
As Wighton re-entered the field with one to go before the break and came up with an error to gift the ball back to the Warriors, but the scores went into the break at 16 – 14 to the Raiders.
The Warriors had 57% of the ball in the first half and only conceded one penalty to the Raiders seven, but the green machine's defence proved the difference with an effective tackle rate at 94% to the Warriors 86.5% going into half time.
A linebreak from Roger Tuivasa-Sheck early in the second half put the Warriors back on the attack as the intensity continued on from the first half.
As the Warriors made their way down the field John Bateman suffered an elbow injury and play was stopped to strap him up, but the Englishmen played on in a must-win clash for the Raiders.
An intercept from whitehead but he didn’t have the speed as he held on just long enough for Jordan Rapana to reach him and as they took on the Warriors defence, Valemei broke through to get his second for the day. Croker couldn’t convert as the scores were locked in at 20 – 14.
The Raiders regained possession on the halfway as a Warriors line drop out went over the dead-ball line, and a subsequent penalty saw the Raiders kick for two to extend their lead 22 – 14.
Whitehead was on the receiving end of a massive tackle that took him down as play was stopped for a couple of minutes as he tried to get back to his feet.
A penalty against the Raiders for an illegal strip with two in the tackle helped the Warriors down the field, but as they strolled into the in-goal, they were denied a try for obstruction against a Raiders defender.
As the Raiders went back on the attack, they were awarded a penalty for a late shot on Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad after a kick, but the Warriors defence held up and forced an error to regain possession deep in their half.
The Raiders earned a penalty for a high shot on Valemei in a massive game for the young winger, who was then taken from the field for a HIA with 10 to go, as the penalty count pivoted the way of the home side.
Rapana made a break down the side off the back of some impressive ball-handling which put Nick Cotric over the try line, with the scores locked in at 26 – 14 as a frustrated Croker failed to convert with just over five to go.
A couple of late penalty calls against each side led to a couple of Captain’s challenges, with controversial bunker decisions, as the stoppages in play extended the game past 4 pm.
With the 26 – 14 victory, the Raiders will look ahead to the Sharks for the last week of the regular season.