Written by JOE McDONOUGH, May 29, 2016
THE Canberra Raiders have come from behind in the second half to career away 32-20 at GIO Stadium today in front of a crowd of 13,907. Here are the five things RLW learned:
1. Raiders refuse to give up.
When Joseph Tapine scored for the Raiders in the 58th minute, momentum shifted. The crowd after being silenced by Moses Mbye’s soft try in the 44th minute, suddenly made their voices heard again. Jack Wighton then took a downfield kick, veered to the left, and sent Edrick Lee running away to score. With their tails up, Sia Soliola powered his way over from close range, and Tapine put the icing on the cake with a second in the final minute of play. But if there was one man that made the difference for the Raiders it was Joey Leilua. ‘BJ’ was unstoppable with the ball, scoring a try, flicking a pass to his partner in crime Jordan Rapana to score, and broke the line at will. The Raiders did well to control possession in the second half and they’re now just a point behind the Dogs on the ladder.
2. Is Jack Wighton a fullback?
Jack Wighton is making too many costly mistakes. The Raiders custodian has the most errors (24) of any NRL player this year and today he certainly didn’t buck the trend. He dropped a swirling bomb under no pressure in the first six minutes, which led to the Dogs’ first try, and then fumbled a grubber 26 minutes in, which again led to an important four-pointer for the away side. In saying that, he did make two huge tackles with two minutes left till half-time. He smashed Perrett, who broke the line, and then backed that up from marker, making a try-saver from behind. And more importantly set up Edrick’s Lee equalising try in the 66th minute with a beautiful double pump. He’s a quality first-grader but there are certainly question marks as to whether he’s a fullback.
3. Eastwood impressive on left edge.
Since taking over from Tony Williams as the Dogs’ left-side backrower, Greg Eastwood has been one of their standouts. The nuggety Kiwi was a focal point of Canterbury’s attack, with Moses Mbye linking up with him regularly. He was instrumental in the first try, drawing in three defenders to create a two-on-one situation for Mbye, who cleverly tapped on for debutant Reimis Smith. By halftime, Eastwood had already made 124 metres from 12 hit-ups and 13 tackles, and at full-time he had amassed over 200 metres.
4. What a debut for Smith.
Yesterday Reimis Smith scored a try in the Bulldogs NSW Cup win over Manly at Belmore. Little did he know then that 24 hours later he’d be lining up against Jordan Rapana on the wing in his NRL debut in Canberra. Of course with Josh Dugan pulling out of Origin this morning, the two big winners were Josh Morris, and his replacement – Smith. If it wasn’t enough that the 19-year-old got his first taste of the top-grade, he also bagged a first half double.
5. Mbye deadly in the attacking-zone.
Moses Mbye rarely chooses the wrong option in the opposition’s 20-metres. The silky skills of the halfback were on show again, scoring a brilliant individual try with some sharp stepping, and laying on both of Smith’s tries with a tap-on and floating cut-out. He’s now got nine try assists this year but expect that to increase significantly now that he’s got Eastwood outside him rather than Williams.
Raiders 32 (Tapine 2, Rapana, Leilua, Lee, Soliola tries; Croker 4 goals) beat Bulldogs 20 (Smith 2, Tolman, Mbye tries; Holland 2 goals) at GIO Stadium.