The Canberra Raiders Knock On Effect NSW Cup side have made it three straight wins after holding on to defeat the Newcastle Knights 30-26 at GIO Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After leading by 22-points early in the second half, the Raiders were almost chased down by the resilient Knights who brought it to a four-point game with five minutes to go.
Canberra winger Albert Hopoate was the star of the show for the green machine continuing his recent run of form recording four tries, breaking seven tackles and running for 257 metres.
In perfect but chilly conditions, both sides went end to end to start the match until a ball was knocked down in defence by Newcastle, offering the Raiders a full set of six 20 metres out from the try line.
Canberra however didn’t need the full set, setting up a play out of the scrum for Albert Hopoate to score in the right corner in the sixth minute.
The Knights were able to answer straight back after Raiders’ half Joshua James put a ball into touch on the full, allowing Newcastle to have a full set inside Canberra’s half of the field. A short ball from Jake Clifford put Lachlan Fitzgibbon straight through a hole and the second rower couldn’t be held out.
Clifford couldn’t convert off his try assist, keeping the score at four-all after 12 minutes.
After a ten minute period that saw the match tighten up and neither side have any genuine scoring opportunities, a costly penalty from Newcastle invited Canberra into their half to score their second try of the game. A well structured play to the left found winger Steven Numambo who forced his way over in the 24th minute.
Brad Schneider couldn’t convert the tough conversion from the sideline keeping the score at 8-4.
Immediately after, the Knights seemed destined to score but Canberra held them out with resilient defence, eventually forcing Brayden Musgrove into touch.
In the 34th minute a loose ball was collected by Raiders right side centre Mitchell Spencer who gave it back inside from Hopoate to score his second of the first half. Joshua James took over the conversion kicking, slotting the kick to give Canberra a 14-4 lead.
But on the stroke of half time, Hopoate went over to score untouched once again, finishing off a Raiders right side shift. James couldn’t convert the kick from the sideline leaving the Raiders with a 14-point lead at the break.
The Raiders started the second half where they left off scoring two tries in the opening ten minutes through Semi Valemei who burrowed his way over and Hopoate who caught a short chip kick in the right corner.
However, both conversions were missed, only advancing Canberra’s magrin by eight points to give them a 22-point lead.
Newcastle managed to end the Raiders’ 22-unanswered-point run with back to back tries in the 51st and 55th minute through Liam Wiscombe and Tex Hoy. The swing in momentum brought the Knights within two converted tries with 25 minutes to go.
A miraculous try in the 59th minute from Musgrove put the Knights within six points of the Raiders. Centre Heath Gibbs had a three on one after he broke through the line and decided to grubber for the corner where the kick sat up favourably for Musgrove to pick it up and put it down all in one motion.
However, in the 71st minute the Raiders were able to extend their lead and stop the bleeding with Valemei once again burrowing his way over to score his second of the match. The conversion was unsuccessful keeping the score at 30-20.
But Newcastle wouldn’t give up with Clifford putting Gibbs through a hole to keep the Knights’ hopes of stealing this game alive. He was able to convert the try as well, bringing them within four-points, the shortest deficit since the 24th minute of the game.
However, the clock wasn’t in favour of the Knights with Canberra able to hold onto their 30-26 lead until full time.
The Raiders NSW Cup team will look to win their fourth on the trot when they travel to WIN Stadium next Sunday to take on the eighth placed Dragons.