The intermission proves to be Canberra’s undoing in round 2.
An unfortunate five-minute passage of play after the half-time break has cost the Raiders, as they went down 18-6 to the New Zealand Warriors in a highly entertaining match at GIO Stadium on Sunday night.
Despite being only the second game of the year, both sides had plenty to play for in this one. The Warriors were looking to get their first win for the 2015 campaign, while the Raiders were trying to atone for a series of embarrassing losses to New Zealand in recent times.
The first half was all skill and class from both sides, with end-to-end football the order of the day. Both teams looked sharp, and the game was an enthralling contest even without any points being scored.
Despite some early nerves, Jack Wighton once again proved how valuable he is going to be in his new position at fullback, stopping a rampaging Manu Vatuvei from being the first to score with a try-saver in the corner. The Warriors were denied on several other occasions, but were finally the first to score through Vatuvei in the 27th minute.
The two sides continued to trade sets, before Mitch Cornish sent up a perfect bomb for Sisa Waqa to grab and put down in an athletic move that once again proved what a valuable buy he will be. Jarrod Croker’s silky shot for goal tied the scores up at 6-all, and that’s how it remained until half-time.
But it was the break that proved to be the worst thing that could happen for Canberra, with it taking just six seconds for it all to start to unravel. A routine kick-off was caught by late call-in Jeremy Hawkins, and a pass that was just slightly askew of perfect was spilt by Paul Vaughan.
It took only a minute before the Warriors made the Raiders pay, with a textbook move across field resulting in a try to Solomone Kata. Before many patrons would had even resumed their seats in the stadium, the Warriors were up 12-6.
Then suddenly the mistake turned into a disaster, as the Warriors scored again through Ryan Hoffman at the 44th minute-mark. The Raiders’ heads went down, none more so than Paul Vaughan, and the score was 18-6.
Canberra then seemed to lose the heads that were dropped, as multiple penalties against them ensued and several players were placed on report. Luckily though, no further points were conceded.
At the sixty-minute mark something stirred inside the Raiders, and the side began to lift. A driving tackle that forced New Zealand back into its in-goal for a line drop out lifted the team and the crowd, and it looked as though the Green Machine could come home with a wet sail.
But in spite of several line breaks from the likes of Blake Austin and Waqa, the home side was unable to find the line for the rest of the game. The score remained unchanged, and both sides will head into round 3 with one win under their belts.
Warriors: 18 (Tries—Vatuvei, Kata, Hoffman; Goals—Johnson 3/3)
Raiders: 6 (Tries—Waqa; Goals—Croker 1/1)
Did the better side win?