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The Canberra Raiders have won a thriller over the Cronulla Sharks in what could be the defining game for both team’s seasons. A field goal shoot-out, the final score of 15-14 included five successful field goals, two for the Sharks and three for the victorious Raiders.
In what was club stalwart Paul Gallen’s last home game the Sharks started off well, scoring three first-half tries and looking threatening every time they entered the Raiders territory.
However, the club’s goalkicking woes continued as they failed to convert a single try, leaving the door open for a second-half Raiders comeback and the green machine gladly obliged.
A stunning, long-range try to Nick Cotric and a great pass from dummy half to Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad meant the lead evaporated within 20 minutes of the half-time break.
From there the game descended into a gritty, field goal shoot out with neither side willing to give an inch and both playing conservatively, waiting for the other to make the mistake that could win them the game.
The Raiders signaled their intent early with a field goal 14 minutes out from full time, followed by two from Chad Townsend and one more from Aiden Sezer.
Golden point saw only two attempts at field goal (including the winning one) as both teams backed their defence to win the game.
In the end the Sharks blinked first and an error in their own half let the Raiders set up for the winning field goal.
From here the Sharks will be nervously waiting on results to see if they remain in the eight or if their matchup next week against the Wests Tigers is a do-or-die match for a finals berth.
The Raiders have all but locked in their top four spot and another come from behind win against good opposition will give them a lot of confidence moving forward.
The Cronulla Sharks will take on the Canberra Raiders in what could be an early preview of this year’s finals series on Sunday. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting at 2pm AEST.
In what will be Paul Gallen’s last game at Shark Park the Cronulla side will be looking to lock in their finals hopes with a big win over a team often labeled as premiership contenders in the Raiders.
Canberra will be doing all they can to do their part in ensuring the top four spot doesn’t slip away from them and the task will be slightly harder with Joey Leilua ruled out through suspension.
Luckily for the Raiders they have strike weapons all over the park, a feat that the Sharks can also claim to have albeit in a less consistent manner.
This game could go down in history as a great battle of two attacking juggernauts but, as so often happens in these hyped up clashes, the victor will likely be the side that is more calm and does the little things right.
With that in mind the key match up comes down to the men who will get their hands on the ball the most: the hookers.
This will be Jayden Brailey’s biggest moment of his career so far and, if he can get the wood over his counterpart, will give him a huge confidence boost right before the knock out stage of the competition.
Conversely Josh Hodgson knows how to operate in higher stakes games and will be looking to leverage that experience into another clinical display leading his team forward in the ruck.
The Sharks will be up for this game because of Gallen but the experience, form and teamwork of the Raiders will not be denied.
Canberra by 6.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting at 2pm AEST.
Kick-off: 2pm (AEST)
Venue: Pointsbet Stadium, Woolooware
TV: Live, Fox League 501
Online: Live, Kayo Sports, Foxtel App, Foxtel Now, NRL Digital Pass
Betting: Cronulla Sharks $2.05, Canberra Raiders $1.76
Overall record: Played 40 Cronulla 23, Raiders 17
Last meeting: Round 14 2019, Cronulla Sharks 20 defeated by the Canberra Raiders 22 at GIO Stadium, Bruce
Record at venue: Cronulla 10/18, Canberra 8/18
Referees: Geard Sutton, Phil Henderson
1 Josh Dugan
2 Sione Katoa
3 Bronson Xerri
4 Joshn Morris
5 Ronaldo Mulitalo
6 Shaun Johnson
7 Chad Townsend
8 Aaron Woods
9 Jayden Brailey
10 Matt Prior
11 Briton Nikora
12 Wade Graham
13 Paul Gallen
14 Kurt Capewell
15 Braden Hamlin-Uele
16 Andrew Fifita
17 Jayson Bukuya
1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
2. Bailey Simonsson
3. Jarrod Croker (c)
4. Nick Cotric
5. Jordan Rapana
6. Jack Wighton
7. Aidan Sezer
8. Josh Papalii
9. Josh Hodgson (c)
10. Sia Soliola
11. John Bateman
12. Elliott Whitehead
13. Ryan Sutton
14. Siliva Havili
15. Dunamis Luia
16. Corey Horsburgh
17. Hudson Young