Is his role now as a supersub? Last night’s result suggests so as Blake Austin turned on the magic in the Canberra Raiders late comeback victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs.
Despite a remarkable 24 points from Bulldogs back-rower Rhyse Martin (3 tries & 6 goals), all the plaudits will go to Austin.
After a poor showing last week, he was dropped to the bench and replaced in the halves by Sam Williams.
It was far from all roses for the Raiders, though; Brad Abbey suffered concussion, Shannon Boyd a calf injury and Joseph Tapine facing suspension.
It was a terrible start by the Raiders. Williams kicked the ball out on the full in the third minute before the Dogs scored soon after.
Jeremy Marshall-King slicing through some soft defence off a scrum play to score.
The Raiders would hit back as Jarrod Croker used all his experience to outmuscle Kerrod Holland, before finding Williams inside to score.
A penalty goal put the Dogs back in front before Croker did it again. Overpowering Holland close to the line to get himself on the scoresheet.
Martin then scored the first of his tries, running onto a lovely short ball from young Dogs half Lachlan Lewis.
Croker was then involved yet again in the Raiders try; this time offloading for Nick Cotric to score in the corner.
It all went downhill from there and Joey Leilua was the culprit.
First, he lost the ball in the Raiders search for points. To make it worse, he piped up with backchat to the officials and was then penalised.
Martin’s second try then came off a Lewis kick that was batted down by Josh Morris.
Not long after, the back-rower had his hat-trick. Josh Morris made the break, busted tackles and then found Martin to cross the line.
The Raiders looked down-and-out, with errors plaguing their chances to score.
Enter the supersub, Blake Austin. Perhaps not quite the supersub in the Dean Widders mold, Austin produced a worldly performance to miraculously get the Raiders a win.
He got one back in the 75th minute with a huge step to score.
Tapine then got his name on the scorers list when he crashed over before, somehow, the Raiders scored again; three tries in five minutes.
It was Austin again, making the break before Leilua redeemed himself; powering over the Morris twins to score and win the game for the Raiders.
There was no-one to blame but themselves for the loss, as Dogs coach Dean Pay lamented his side’s poor finish.
“For all the hard work they put in, we just did a couple of poor things at the end there, we missed some tackles, easy one-on-ones,” Pay said post-game.
“We didn’t get the ball back off the kick off, had the ball stripped from Lich (hooker Michael Lichaa).
It was an accumulation of things that went against us and we couldn’t stop it.”
Austin drew nothing but praise from Canberra coach Ricky Stuart.
“After last week’s game [26-22 loss to Broncos] I felt for Blake because he’s had a tough week,” Stuart said.
“He certainly added a bit of vibe and feel to the team, some spark that we lacked all game.”
Player of the Game:
3. Blake Austin
2. Rhyse Martin
- Jarrod Croker