The Canberra Raiders somehow managed to hold on to win against a resolute Cronulla Sharks side, despite a sloppy second half.
Led by captain Jarrod Croker, who scored the try that sealed the game and equalled club records in the process, it was a win despite the sloppiness.
Just over 10,000 fans at GIO Stadium went crazy when Croker took an intercept and iced the game for the Green Machine by merely taking the intercept.
The first half was all Canberra and the Sharks had no answer to the early onslaught.
The Raiders raced out to a 20-0 lead, their first points coming courtesy of a penalty goal.
Some early efforts were not capitalised on but Aidan Sezer would eventually break the duck when he sliced straight through a gap to score.
A tremendous acrobatic put-down saw the Raiders extend their lead, as Bailey Simonsson produced an effort for the ages to somehow score in the corner.
Croker then scored to equal Jason Croker’s club record of 120 tries.
With the way the game was heading, the Raiders were probably expecting to run away with it, as were their fans.
It didn’t work out that way as in quick succession, the Sharks nabbed two tries of their own.
Veteran backs Josh Dugan and Josh Morris were the scorers of those tries and suddenly, the lead was cut to just a converted try by half-time.
After the break, the Sharks continued to show their resolve as they peppered the Raiders line.
They were rewarded when Braden Hamlin-Uele powered his way over for a typical prop’s try.
Dugan then grabbed his second to make the game interesting, though Croker’s trusty left foot proved the difference.
Although pleased with how his side responded to trailing 20-0, it was how his side started the game that disappointed Sharks coach John Morris.
“I was happy with the way we found a way to fight back, but I was really disappointed with our start,” Morris said.
“We haven’t been starting well all year, we’ve won most of our games from behind and certainly coming down here to Canberra, of all places, you want to get off to a good start against a quality team.”
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart was pleased with his side and admitted that momentum is a funny thing and often hard to control.
“Games turn that way, sometimes they turn into a grind and one opposition has a lot of momentum,” Stuart said.
“Same thing happened against the Storm when they had that momentum on us, same thing against the Roosters and we were able to fight our way back into both those games.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Josh Dugan
2. Jarrod Croker
- Bailey Simonsson