Wade Graham hat-trick propels Sharks to easy win over Raiders

Wade Graham

Many have them billed as genuine premiership contenders but their start to the 2017 could not have gone worse, with the Canberra Raiders suffering two straight losses. 

A narrow loss is tolerable but the heavy 42-16 loss against the Cronulla Sharks raises some worrying concerns.

Usually tough to beat at home, the Raiders were comprehensively outplayed by a hungrier, more committed Sharks side led by Wade Graham who scored a rare hat-trick.

They could be forgiven in some respect for a rather energy-sapping Rd 1 loss to the Cowboys as a reason behind their fatigue but there could be even more bad news to come.

Joey Leilua departed the field and Josh Hodgson was hobbling on one leg in the second half, with both being two of their most crucial players.

Early on, the game went back and forth as the two sides went tit-for-tat when it came to scoring tries. The Raiders would have fancied themselves in the second half to potentially win but it was not to be.

The Sharks burst out of the blocks with young hooker Jayden Brailey scoring his first NRL try before a 40/20 by James Maloney and further tries to the Sharks blew the lead out.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart had no excuses for his side’s performance and did not beat around the bush.

“The first half was as bad as the second half,” he said.

“Individually we were poor… it’s the same old story from every losing coach: five penalties, not playing the ball correctly on early tackles.

“You can’t give good teams an inch. We gave them a mile and they took it. ”

Raiders captain Josh Hodgson echoed those sentiments  as he lambasted his side for poor execution and ill-discipline.

“When you make error on error and give away too many penalties, it all adds up and saps the energy out of you,” the Englishman said.

“Once we lost that, they got a couple of tries on us and I thought they got a bit of a roll on and we struggled to get it back.

“Ultimately we just weren’t good enough. There’s no beating around the bush.”

Jayden Brailey drew plenty of praise from coach Shane Flanagan who knows that he will only get better.

“I’ve known the kid for basically his whole life. He’s a really level-headed kid, he loves his football and he prepares well and he’s a good trainer and he’s got all the qualities,” Flanagan said after the game.

“Jayden is going to be around for a long period of time. He’s 20 years old and he could’ve played 80 minutes today.

3. Wade Graham

2. James Maloney

  1. Jack Wighton

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