Raiders make first grand final in 25 years with win over Rabbitohs

Canberra Raiders forward Josh Papalii

Both the Canberra Raiders and South Sydney Rabbitohs went into this game playing for their season and a spot in the grand final.

We have John Sutton playing for his career and Elliott Whitehead and Damien Cook playing their 100th NRL games.

All in all, there is a lot riding on this game. That is probably why this is the biggest home crowd the Raiders have ever had.

Kickoff

It took 15 minutes for first points in the game. The master of the strip, Josh Hodgson, executes it perfectly 20 metres out.

A few tackles later, Hodgson laid a kick into the in goal from an offload from Elliott Whitehead.

The late replacement for James Roberts, Corey Allan cleaned this up but lost it in his own in goal and Jarrod Croker jumped on it for the 6-0 lead.

5 minutes after the try, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was held too long by the defence and the Raiders elected to take the 2. J

Croker hooked the penalty goal to the right for the 20m dropout. The score remained 6-0 after one quarter of the game.

A bit later, Souths would get a scrum in great field position and Cody Walker looked certain to score but for a wonderful try-saving strip by Josh Hodgson!

Canberra Raiders hooker Josh Hodgson

However, this would be nullified by Souths 2 minutes later when Dane Gagai went over near the right sideline from a scrum after a John Bateman knock on.

Adam Reynolds converted for 6-all scoreline after half an hour.

Hulking Rabbitohs prop Tevita Tatola would crash over the line.

He would be denied by the bunker because three Raiders would stopped him short for the handover.

We went into the half-time break at 6-all.

HALF TIME

RAIDERS 6 – 6 RABBITOHS

The second half kicked off and the Raiders started quickly and brilliantly.

Wighton bombed it on last for Nicoll-Klokstad to bat it backwards.

The in-form custodian would recover it and lose the ball but managed to get a foot to it before it hit the ground.

He would miraculously recover this kick and go over in the left corner to score.

Croker hit the post on the conversion so the scores remained 10-6 to the Raiders after 45 minutes.

Canberra Raiders centre and captain Jarrod Croker

5 minutes later, from a grubber return, Adam Doueihi was hit high by Josh Papalii.

As the contact was with the shoulder, Papalii was put on report for the high tackle. The Souths doctors took Doueihi off the field for a HIA test.

Straight after, Sam Burgess went high on Croker. In this contact, Burgess hurt his bicep and they took him off the field.

Both Doueihi and Burgess would return with 15 minutes to play.

With 15 minutes left, Joey Leilua would succumb to a left leg injury and would come off the field.

A few minutes later, Wighton went down clutching his right shoulder but would tough it out and stay on the field.

South Sydney Rabbitohs halfback Adam Reynolds

On the next tackle, Reynolds would intercept it and run 60 metres before Nicoll-Klokstad stopped him.

Nicoll-Klokstad gave away a penalty on the tackle following the break and the refs sent him to the sin bin.

With 6 minutes left and Nicoll-Klokstad watching on from the sin bin, Papalii beat 4 tackled to barge over under the posts!

Croker converted from directly in front to make the lead 16-6 with 5 minutes left.

As we ticked into the final minute, Campbell Graham went over to give the Rabbitohs one last chance.

South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess

Reynolds hooked the goal from close to the left sideline which meant the Rabbitohs were down 16-10 with 1 play to win it. The Raiders held on to win the game!

FULL TIME

RAIDERS 16 – 10 RABBITOHS

The Rabbitohs 2019 season is over, John Sutton’s career is over and George Burgess is off to England.

On a more positive note, the Canberra Raiders have held on to make their first grand final in 25 years!

Who will meet the Raiders next week at ANZ stadium? We will find out tomorrow night.

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