It was an ugly win—but a win nonetheless.
The Canberra Raiders have rediscovered the winning feeling, toppling the Cronulla Sharks 22-12 at Remondis Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
To say it was a scrappy affair would be putting it lightly, with errors playing a prominent part during the first half in particular. Anyone would need to look no further than this contest for evidence of why these two sides have been anchored to the bottom of the table for most of the year.
Both sides missed early chances, with the Raiders showing a distinct lack of gloss as Edrick Lee stumbled over the sideline in attempting to score the opening try.
It wasn’t until the 36th minute that the scoring got underway, as a well executed Sharks' break through the line turned into a comedy of errors befitting the two sides fighting to avoid the wooden spoon. But despite the ball coming free at the tail end of the play, Sosaia Feki regained it and scored to see the home side go up 6-0.
However, seven minutes into the second half Canberra hit back from an Anthony Milford grubber into the in-goal that was collected by Matt McIlwrick. The resulting conversion made the scores level at 6-all.
Soon after it was that man Milford again, this time with a quick pass on the short-side to Jarrod Croker, who darted over the line untouched for his eighteenth try of the year.
In the 59th minute the Raiders made the result all but assured, as try-scoring machine Croker broke through the defence before passing to Milford who pirouetted his way to another four-pointer. The conversion made the score 16-6.
Edrick Lee’s day only got worse, as the ball fell from his grasp with the line begging. That try would have ended the Sharks’ chances, but they instead clawed their way back into the contest when Tim Robertson scored in the 66th minute.
But the eventual man-of-the-match Anthony Milford put the result beyond all doubt minutes later, when he collected a Mitch Cornish grubber to score under the posts and make what would be the final scoreline of 22-12.
Whatever it looks like, a win's a win—and barring any minor miracles over the remaining two rounds of the regular competition, it was a victory that should keep the Raiders far enough away from the dreaded wooden spoon.
Raiders: 22 (Tries: Milford 2, McIlwrick, Croker; Goals: Croker 3/4)
Sharks: 12 (Tries: Feki, Robinson; Goals: Gordon 2/2)
Is the wooden spoon safely in Cronulla’s cutlery drawer?