Raiders second half show knocks Sharks out of finals

These two sides clashed last week, with Canberra Raiders overcoming the Cronulla Sharks 38-28, but both teams knew a win would their Grand Final hopes alive.

The Sharks started the better, as they pinned back the Raiders inside their own 20-metre line.

Once the Sharks got the ball back in hand, Chad Townsend kicked over the top but couldn’t quite ground the ball himself.

John Bateman did take Braden Hamlin-Uele off the ball but the second-rower was lucky not to pick up a yellow card.

With the game so important, Townsend opted to take the two points and go ahead early.

The Raiders woke up after a tough start, and with their first attacking chance, took the lead.

Nick Cotric went close on the right edge, before the ball was pushed out to Joseph Tapine, who stepped back against the defence and brushed past two tacklers before charging and stretching over the line.

There were plenty of errors being made by both sides as they competed for territory in midfield.

Just before the 20th minute, the Sharks looked to have hit back, as a ball steal from Toby Rudolf put them on the front foot.

Connor Tracey took the line on down the left-edge, skipping across the line.

He dummied to force Cotric to step forward before accelerating through the gap and then pushing the ball to Ronaldo Mulitalo to score in the corner.

A few minutes later, Josh Papalii was penalised for a ball strip right in front of the posts, so Townsend made up for his missed sideline conversion and put the Sharks 8-6 in front.

With 13 minutes to go until the break, the Riaders were looking to get out of their own ten-metre line as Elliot Whitehead dropped the ball.

Blayke Brailey scooped up the loose ball and charged towards the posts and stretched over in tackle of Tom Starling to score despite clattering into the upright.

With two minutes to go until half-time, Wade Graham had shifted into the halves with Brailey off the field, but his pass was picked off by George Williams, and the former Wigan half-back raced away to put the Raiders back into the contest.

HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 10-14 Cronulla Sharks

Just seven minutes into the second half, Jack Wighton showed good skills to get himself through the Sharks line after a quick tap penalty while Cronulla weren’t paying attention after Wade Graham attempted to call a Captains Challenge.

The try was legitimate due to the penalty being for ruck infringment, and was awarded depsite the protests from Graham.

Croker then converted to make it 16-14.

The Raiders were in the mood once again following Wighton’s try, and in the very next set, the half-back crossed again.

A chip into the corner from Williams was claimed by Wighton in the air, and despite a slight fumble, and being off balance, managed to hold the ball, and himself before grounded the ball.

Following a charging run, and a quick play-the-ball from Hudson Young, Wighton and Williams combined once again as the New South Wales representative passed onto his half-back partner who busted through both Aaron Woods and Siosifa Talakai to score under the posts.

Now with a 14-point lead, the Raiders were certainly on top of the Sharks.

With just under 15 minutes remaining, after going 70-metres in five tackles, Jarrad Croker kicked on the last on the left-edge , and Elliot Whitehead chased up the inside and collected the loose ball ahead of Townsend and Will Kennedy for the try.

With five minutes to go, the Sharks knew that their season was over, as they faced a 18 point deficit.

However, with two minutes on the clock, Sione Katoapicked off a pass from Whitehead to Croker on his own ten-metre line, and raced 90 metres to score.

FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 32-20 Cronulla Sharks


Canberra Raiders

Nicoll-Klokstad, Valemei, Croker, Rapana, Cotric, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Starling, Soliola, Bateman, Whitehead, Tapine

Interchanges: Lui, Havili, Young, Harawira-Naera

Tries: Tapine, Williams (2), Wighton (2), Whitehead

Goals: Croker (4/6)

Cronulla Sharks

Kennedy, Katoa. Dugan, Ramien, Mulitalo, Tracey, Townsend, Hamlin-Uele, Brailey, Rudolf, Nikora, Graham, Talakai

Interchanges: Woods, Sorensen, Fifita, Williams

Tries: Mulitalo, Brailey, Katoa

Goals: Townsend (4/5)

Referee: G. Atkins

Touch Judges: P. Henderson, Z Przeklasa-Adamski

Video Referee: J. Maxwell

Image Source: @England_RL (twitter)

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