What are the talking points from Canberra’s clash with New Zealand?
The Canberra Raiders played strong, controlled, and positive football for most of the match. They were in the contest from go to woe. But one thing cost them this game: half time.
The intermission between halves made the side lose its focus and lose its resolve for just five minutes—but in the NRL that can be all it takes to turn an evenly poised match into catch-up football.
Both sides were enthused as they ran back onto GIO Stadium for the second stanza. Paul Vaughan could be seen jumping up and down and verbally pumping himself up. How unfortunate it was then that he was the one to put Canberra on the defensive.
A simple dropped pass, on the very first run after the kick-off, saw the Raiders collectively drop their heads. The Warriors took note of this and made sure to capitalise. It felt almost inevitable that points would be scored.
[quote]...after such an even and entertaining first forty, the game deserved to find a winner without such a dire lapse in concentration.[/quote]
Only a few minutes later the Warriors had found the line twice and a previously level game had suddenly blown out to a twelve-point deficit. The Raiders had handed the Warriors the ascendancy on a silver platter.
All that said, nothing should be taken away from New Zealand. They turned up ready to play, and would have had just as much chance to win the game had the knock-on from the restart not occurred.
To their credit, they took the opportunity when it was presented to them and they held onto the advantage. But after such an even and entertaining first forty, the game deserved to find a winner without such a dire lapse in concentration.
The Raiders will take a valuable lesson from this game: that they can’t switch off for even an instant over eighty minutes—and that includes at half-time.
Sisa is Doing it for himself:
Unlike the song by the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin, Sisa Waqa is definitely not doing it for himself—in fact he has already proven over the opening two games how much he is doing it for the team.
Even at such an early stage of the season, he's shown that he is one of the buys of the year. The experience he's brought to the younger players is invaluable, and with two tries from as many games, his attacking prowess is not going to waste either.
However, if he ever did want to take up a more solo pursuit, then refereeing may have to be one of his career options. In one of the more light-hearted moments from Sunday’s match, Sisa took it upon himself to referee a short portion of the proceedings.
It was the 73rd minute of the match when the bizarre but incredibly comical moment transpired. The Raiders were desperately trying to find the line to keep the match alive and Waqa, having trapped the ball against his knee, picked it up and ran with it.
But as he made his way down field, he vigorously alerted the referee that the ball had ricocheted off his knee and not his hands. Sensibly, the actual referee agreed not to dispute the rampaging Fijian, and play continued.
Comedic commentary from Andrew Voss ensued (who, on a side note, it's great to have back in a regular game-calling position), and the Raiders continued to push down-field. It was all to no avail though, and the match was lost.
But credit must be given to Ricky Stuart and the Raiders management for securing such a marquee signing for the Green Machine—he is already proving to be a crowd favourite and a game-changer for Canberra in 2015.
Was it half-time that cost the Raiders?
Does Waqa have a refereeing career ahead of him?