The Canberra Raiders have set up a showdown with the New Zealand Warriors in the Minor Semi-final of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup, following a nail-biting 24-22 victory over the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles at North Sydney Oval.
The Raiders got off to a flying start, scoring two tries within 10 minutes. The first came through Peter Hola, who powered through a two-man tackle to open the scoring, before a pin-point cut-out pass from Ethan Strange found James Schiller, who dived over in the corner to give his side a 10-0 lead.
A penalty to the Raiders gave them the opportunity to extend their lead to two converted tries and that’s what fullback Chevy Stewart did, converting the penalty goal in the 28th minute.
The Green Machine looked certain to score their third consecutive try when Schiller picked up a loose ball and ran almost 80 metres before being caught by Jake Toby, who forced the Raiders’ winger to throw a forward pass – saving a certain try.
With a minute before halftime, the Sea Eagles finally got themselves on the scoreboard through a Cooper Johns grubber which was regathered by Jacob Sykes, who planted the ball down to bring the margin within a converted try at the break.
Sykes grabbed himself a try double just four minutes into the second half, barging his way over next to the posts before a successful conversion from Jamie Humphreys levelled the scores at 12-all.
The Sea Eagles scored two more tries through Kaeo Weekes, who blasted onto a ball from Josh Schuster to give his side their first lead of the afternoon, before diving over in the corner following a left-side shift to extend their lead to 22-12.
The Raiders weren’t going down without a fight, piling the pressure on their opponents and forcing a goal-line drop-out. Schiller collected the ball from the drop-out to score a solo try and bring his side back within six.
With just over 10 minutes to go, the Raiders secured the lead when Utuloa Asomua ran across field on play zero before offloading to Xavier Savage, who flew down the sideline and passed to Chevy Stewart to score near the posts.
Stewart converted his own try to regain the lead and minutes later came up with a brilliant, try-saving tackle to secure his side’s 24-22 victory and a spot in week two of the finals.
- There was no shortage of attacking opportunities for both teams, with the Raiders and Sea Eagles both pulling off brave defensive displays to stay in the game.
- Chevy Stewart came up with a match-winning play following his try to take the lead, pulling off a brilliant one-on-one tackle on Ben Condon who looked certain to score.
Utuloa Asomua came up with a huge play late in the match, catching the ball from a Sea Eagles bomb just 15 metres from his own line and running across field before offloading to a flying Xavier Savage. Savage glided down the sideline, drawing in the opposition fullback and offloading to Chevy Stewart, who raced away to score the match-winning try for the Raiders.
What’ s next?
The Raiders move on to week two of the finals in the Minor Semi-final match against the Warriors, who get a second chance after their loss to the Rabbitohs earlier today.