Canberra finally finds a little bit of consistency in season 2014.
It may have taken until the end of the year, but the Canberra Raiders have finally posted consecutive wins, defeating the Wests Tigers 27-12 at GIO Stadium on Saturday night.
It was a match with no bearing on the rest of the competition, but for the two proud clubs involved, this contest was about pride in what has otherwise been a set of disastrous seasons.
The match began more positively for the Raiders—and in particular Mitch Cornish, who was playing his first full game at first grade in the number seven jersey.
It was in just the third minute when Cornish put up a pinpoint bomb that was knocked back by Edrick Lee and eventually found Bill Tupou, who scored in the corner.
A long passage of play followed without any further points. It was highlighted by the inept nature of the Tigers’ play, as a series of errors saw them become their own worst enemy.
It took until the 34th minute for more points to be posted, and once again they came to the Green Machine. Mitch Cornish was in the thick of the play again, with a well-timed pass to stand-in fullback Jack Wighton. The Raiders went to the break up 12-0.
Wighton’s first time in the number one only got better when the game resumed, making a break through the Tigers’ line on the first play of the half. However, it wouldn’t lead to more points for Canberra; the Tigers instead being the next to score through Blake Austin in the 57th minute.
Several minutes later the Raiders gave themselves a little more breathing room, with a penalty conversion extending the lead to eight points. However, the breath didn’t last long, as the Tigers scored an equally fast try through Martin Taupau and the score was 14-12.
But in what was proving to be a far more composed performance by the Raiders, the home side didn’t panic—going to their x-factor Anthony Milford, who delivered a short pass for Josh Papalii to score.
Some committed defence by Canberra soon after denied Blake Austin’s attempted try with five minutes remaining, before Milford kicked a fairly innocuous field goal to see the side go ahead by nine.
The Green Machine finished the night with a spectacular try against the run-of-play. The movement started with an offload by Jarrod Croker and was finished by a selfless pass by Glen Buttriss to Milford, who sealed the victory with a diving four-pointer.
The first back-to-back victories for Canberra give cause for optimism looking towards next year. Despite the impending departure of Milford, Ricky Stuart has possibly unearthed some new combinations with the likes of Cornish in the halves and Wighton at fullback.
Canberra now has just one game left in 2014. A victory next week would achieve two feats: it would spoil Parramatta’s chances of making the finals and achieve an unlikely trio of consecutive victories. With more form like this game then both of those objectives are very achievable.
Raiders: 27 (Tries: Tupou, Wighton, Papalii, Milford; Goals: Croker 5/5; Field Goals: Milford 1/1)
Tigers: 12 (Tries: Austin, Taupau; Goals: Richards 2/2)
Did Raiders faithful see a glimpse of a positive future?