New look halves combination leads Raiders to victory

Blake Austin

The continued emergence of Blake Austin and the reinvigoration of Sam Williams has done the trick for the Canberra Raiders, with the club picking up a big, upset win over competition heavyweights, the Manly Sea Eagles.

The game, played in Albury, ended up in a 29-16 win for the Raiders and means that the Sea Eagles have crashed to their worst start to a season since 2009.

Whilst there were injuries galore for the Sea Eagles resulting in some changes before kick-off, the emergence of Tom Trbojevic in his debut game will have Manly fans smiling profusely.

Touted as the next big thing to come out of the Manly ranks and as a player that can eventually take over the fullback role once Brett Stewart retires, Trbojevic shows that he belongs in the NRL.

A two-try effort on debut, including a try after just 122 seconds, was perhaps the sole shining light for Manly in what was a poor effort from them.

It was deserved man-of-the-match Blake Austin that pulled the strings. If he was not scoring a try, he was setting them up and getting himself involved in the attacking raids.

At one point, the Raiders led 29-4, before a late Manly fightback made the score somewhat more respectable.

There was nothing but praise for Austin from Raiders coach Ricky Stuart, who knows just how well a half has to perform in the modern era.

“He put himself out there. That’s what I liked was his defence – it was tough. We all know he’s a good attacker, we’ve been working hard on his defence. Today he aimed up and did a good job,” Stuart said of Austin after the game.

Stuart also praised the newly recalled Sam Williams, praising his efforts and direction.

“Sammy was so important to the team today. He gave us a lot of direction and his kicking game was outstanding. If you have a good kicking game you are defending where you want to defend and putting the opposition on the back foot,” Stuart said of Williams’ performance.

Well aware of how good Trbojevic is a a player, Manly coach Geoff Toovey praised the efforts of the debut winger.

“I thought he was really good. He brought some youthful enthusiasm. His stats will be right up there and he tried his butt off,” Toovey said of Trbojevic.

On the game itself, it was simple for Manly. They need to start winning games in general and games on the road.

“We need to turn things around quickly. We started poorly last week and it’s the same tonight. We’ve just got to start better,” Toovey said.

“We can’t afford to commit simple mistakes. In saying that I thought we still had opportunities to keep them out but we were unable to.

“No excuses – they had more energy than us with the ball and in defence.”

Player of the Game:

3. Blake Austin
2. Tom Trbojevic
1. Sisa Waqa/Shaun Fensom

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