Match Report: Raiders outmuscle luckless Sharks
The Sharks have suffered their first loss since Round 3 of the Telstra Premiership, going down to the Raiders 30 points to 14 at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
The defeat is not only the first since the loss at Brookvale in March, but also the first time the Sharks have gone down at home in the 2016 season.
An impressive display from the Raiders throughout the 80 minutes saw them to the 16-point win, though it the Sharks who opened the night’s scoring courtesy of a James Maloney penalty goal.
Further still, the Sharks had looked to have got off to a flying start when Chad Townsend claimed an early try, when following through a kick from Luke Lewis.
Townsend grabbed the ball from Jack Wighton’s spill to touch down over the line, though the half was deemed offside in the play’s lead-up.
Though not shaken by the scare, the Raiders worked the ball down field and went in to score their first points, courtesy of winger Jordan Rapana.
Rapana grabbed an Aidan Sezar kick to score, and sharp-shooter Jarrod Croker made no mistake with the conversion from out wide to take the score to 6-2.
Down by 4, the Sharks would soon again see the front when Maloney went in to cross for his fifth try of the season.
A show and go saw the pivot slice through to score, and his following conversion sent the Sharks to an 8-6 front.
Up on the scoreboard but under an amount of pressure, the Sharks defence was made to leak points, as the Raiders went in to score two tries in quick succession through Wighton and Rapana.
Again Croker split the uprights, in taking the visitors out to an 18-8 lead.
A further 2 points from a penalty and Croker’s boot rounded out the last of the first half scoring, as the Raiders took a 20 points to 8 lead at the break.
The second half started much the same as the first finished, as Croker pointed to the posts and added another two from the penalty tee.
A dubious call against the Sharks served to spring them into action, with Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita injecting themselves into the play to create points.
Gallen went in to score close to the posts in the 55th minute, with Maloney reducing the deficit to just 8.
Full of energy after points, the Sharks couldn’t go back to back as Blake Austin cut through the line to maintain the Raiders’ 14-point advantage.
Needing a spark, the Sharks had looked to have cut the lead back when Sosaia Feki claimed a try in the South-Eastern corner.
Feki would have gone in for his 14th try of the season, if not for some desperate cover defence from Wighton at the back.
Croker again kicked for penalty with success in the 66th minute, sending the Raiders out to a 30 points to 14 lead.
CRONULLA SHARKS – 14
TRIES: Maloney, Gallen | GOALS: Maloney (Conv. 2/2, Pen. 1/1)
Def. by CANBERRA RAIDERS – 30
TRIES: Rapana (2), Wighton, Austin | GOALS: Croker (Conv. 3/3, Pen. 4/4)