The Canberra Raiders have begun their 2022 season with a thrilling 24-19 victory over the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks at GIO Stadium on Friday night.
In a close second half, the Raiders were able to hit the front late with a try in the 75th minute to Hudson Young. Canberra’s strong first half and energetic finish proved too much for the new look Sharks outfit.
Celebrating his 200th game, Jack Wighton was named man of the match in an incredible performance with 142 metres, five tackle breaks and a try.
It didn’t take long for Canberra to get their season going with milestone man Jack Wighton crossing over in the eighth minute for the game’s first four pointer. Picking up an errant offload, Wighton was able to pierce through the Sharks defence and link up with Nick Cotric who gave it back to Wighton on his inside.
Nine minutes later, following a one-on-one strip from Corey Harawira-Naera, the Raiders capitalised on great field position with their second try through Semi Valemei. With a 12-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes, everything looked to be going right for the green-machine.
But after an unfortunate contested knock on from Nick Cotric, Cronulla struck back and scored immediately out of the scrum with hooker, Blayke Brailey, finding a gap in the defence and scoring next to the posts.
With just two minutes until halftime, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad somehow held onto an unpredictable bouncing grubber from Tom Starling to score the Raiders third try of the half. Schneider converted to make it 18-6 at halftime.
Coming out of the break the Sharks went on the attack and it didn’t take too long till Will Kennedy found a gap on the right side of the field to bring his side within six-points of the Raiders.
A costly penalty in the 54th minute for a high shot given by Josh Papalii provided the Sharks with their second try of the half through Teig Wilton. Nicho Hynes with a crafty no look short pass caught the Raiders defence off guard and Wilton went straight through to level the scores after the conversion.
Entering the final 10 minutes of the game the scores were even but after of rampaging set the Sharks got the ball to five-eighth, Matt Moylan who slotted a field goal from right in front to give them a one-point lead. But that wasn’t enough.
With a wrecking ball set through the middle of the field, the Raiders put themselves in a great position to level things with a field goal of their own. But Jack Wighton opted against it running down the short left hand side giving it the Hudson Young who busted through numerous players to get to the line.
Schneider converted to give the home side a five-point lead but the Sharks gained possession off a short kickoff and went inches close to scoring with the Raiders holding Matt Ikuvalu up in the corner which proved to be the match winner.
An exceptional performance from the green machine that will surely be replicated next week against the Cowboys in Townsville.