Still only a young kid, Xavier Savage has shown class, finesse, and toughness, helping the Canberra Raiders to victory against the Cronulla Sharks.
Savage, who was forced onto the wing late in the second half due to a shoulder issue, was praised by coach Ricky Stuart for his toughness.
“That was his biggest credit on the night, that he played on with injury,” Stuart said.
“For me, that was where he got a great tick of approval because a lot of players can’t play under duress like that.
“For a young boy who’s just out of school, he did a really good job in handling that pain.”
It was in-form back-rower Corey Harawira-Naera who produced the goods with a great play and offload for Jordan Rapana to score.
The ensuing play would result in an eight-point try after it was ruled that Braydon Trindall had collected Rapana high in the process.
A surprise decision to opt for a penalty goal put the Raiders up 10-0 but the Sharks would not die wondering.
Despite having just 41% possession as the first-half neared an end, they dug deep and found the try line through Jesse Ramien.
Angling back in, Ramien’s power and footwork were too much for the Raiders defence to handle as he sliced through.
The Sharks would then score again, this time through winger Sione Katoa, as he pounced on an error from opposite number Semi Valemei.
A third penalty goal for Croker evened things up at the break at 12-all.
The Raiders would not rest on their laurels, however, scoring through Jack Wighton upon the resumption.
Wighton, who was needled up due to an earlier rib complaint, pounced on nice lead-up work from Savage and Tom Starling.
The Raiders joy was short-lived as Connor Tracey and Ronaldo Mulitalo combined for the winger to score in his corner.
Try as they might to stay in the contest, the Sharks were unable to go toe-to-toe with the Raiders and three late tries saw the Green Machine cruise to victory.
First, Hudson Young charged onto a short pass from Sam Williams to stroll over to score.
Before tries to Xavier Savage and Semi Valemei all but wrapped the game up for the Raiders.
The Sharks loss was compounded by finishing the game with 12 on the field after Siosifa Talakai was si-binned.
NRL News Player of the Game
3. Xavier Savage (CAN)
2. Corey Harawira-Naera (CAN)
1. Jesse Ramien (CRO)