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Raiders survive three bins to jump Sharks 30-10 at Magic Round




Canberra have pulled off the biggest boilover of Magic Round so far, overcoming three sin bins to topple the Cronulla Sharks 30-10 at Suncorp Stadium.

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Elliot Whitehead and Corey Horsburgh were all sat down for periods, with the Raiders defending manfully to cover the deficit.

After the Sharks had defended stoutly with 11 last week in their victory over the Warriors, so the Raiders did when Whitehead and Horsburgh’s time in the bin overlapped.

As impressive as the Raiders were, this was the worst that the Sharks have looked under Craig Fitzgibbon.

With Will Kennedy suspended, they were forced to reshuffle Nicho Hynes to fullback and bring Brayden Trindall into the halves. All cohesion built over ten rounds of football seemed to dissipate into the Brisbane air.

The stats were wild: Cronulla had 55% possession and 60% of territory, with a full ten sets’ worth of tackles on the Raiders line. Yet they managed to score just twice.  

It’s hard to remember a Sharks performance as poor as this. Errors happen, but the manner of the errors is so unlike this iteration of Cronulla.

They have been experts in making their mistakes in the right position, late in the tackle count while promoting the ball. Here, they presented the Raiders with chances that saw the game disappear in the first half.

That is to take nothing away from the Raiders. They completed very high, kicked long and tackled for their lives to repel waves of attack. As bad as the Sharks were, Canberra made them look bad. The faders tag that has dogged them for years was not applicable today.

The defensive organisation was shot early on, with Seb Kris opening the scoring by claiming a Matt Frawley kick with too much ease.

Nicho Hynes, returned to fullback in the absence of Will Kennedy, spilled one and after a series of set restarts, Josh Papalii was able to barge over.

Brad Schneider then added a penalty goal before the real killer concession for Cronulla.

Sione Katoa, so often among the best on ground in black, white and blue, endured a nightmare ten minutes in which he dropped a bomb straight to Corey Harawira-Naera for one try, then was outjumped conclusively by Jordan Rapana for another. Luckily for the Sharks, there was an offside on the second.

In the midst of that, a rare Sharks attack had resulted in Charze Nicoll-Klokstad being sat down for a professional foul.

Getting first half leads has not been a problem for the Raiders, of course. Hanging onto them has, and the second half started ominously badly.

Corey Horsburgh was binned for a professional foul on Ronaldo Mulitalo and the numbers finally told with Katoa moving the ledger back in his direction by completing the first piece of solid backline play that the Sharks had managed all day.

From the kick off, Dale Finucane was caught high by Elliott Whitehead: the Englishmen joined Horsburgh in the bin, the Cronulla captain was done for the day with a clear concussion.

The Raiders continued to offer opportunities. Nicoll-Klokstad stood up in the corner and allowed himself to be bundled into touch and when Cronulla obliged with a knock on, Canberra knocked it straight back.

The Sharks haven’t look this disjointed all year, but even they couldn’t turn down the invitation. It was hardly the scintillating attacking play that has characterised most of 2022 in the Shire, but Royce Hunt managed to turn in the tackle and score.

Once the Raiders returned to a full complement, they put the game to bed. Zac Woolford, quietly impressive from dummy half on NRL debut, broke straight up the middle and put Brad Schneider in for his first in the top grade.

There was still time for a symbolic full stop: a Sharks backline move failing, Braydon Trindall flicking the ball straight to Hudson Young to underline the result.





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