NYC Rd 23 Penrith 22 Canberra 28
The Canberra Raiders under 20s side now sit atop of the Toyota Cup ladder after wingers Jonathon Reuben and Jeremy Hawkins propelled them to a 22-28 victory over the Penrith Panthers this at Centrebet Stadium.by NRL
The Canberra Raiders under 20s side now sit atop of the Toyota Cup ladder after wingers Jonathon Reuben and Jeremy Hawkins propelled them to a 22-28 victory over the Penrith Panthers this at Centrebet Stadium.
Both wingers were superb throughout the match, scoring two tries each and making a combined seven line breaks and 260 metres in attack.
The Raiders came into the game knowing that that a win would guarantee them first place after the Warriors upset loss the Cowboys last night, however, they were made to work for the points by the plucky Panthers who were leading the Green Machine 22-20 until Rueben's match winning try four minutes from fulltime.
The first half was a keenly contested affair with both teams going tit-for-tat throughout the first 40. The Panthers opened the scoring in the fourth minute of play when an offload from back rower Vipuna Tiakilifi enabled fullback Kieran Moss to cross under the posts. However, the Raiders struck back almost immediately when quick hands down the right hand side saw Reuben crash over. Anthony Milford nailed the conversion and the scores were level 6 all.
The Panthers regained the lead six minutes later through front rower Sam Hollis who crashed over after receiving a short ball from halfback Toby Evans, but the Raiders were able to draw level again when a nice cut out ball from fullback Jack Ahearn put Hawkins in for his first try.
Reuban looked to have made it back to back tries for the visitors when he pounced on a Milford grubber in the Penrith in-goal but referee Adam Gee ruled that the big winger had knocked on while grounding the ball.
Home town hero Tiakalifi was the next to score when he barged over from dummy half for another converted try in 35th minute but Raiders had the last word of the half when some nice second phase play involving Milford, lock Hayden Crocked and halfback Mitch Cornish saw Hawkins cross for his second. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Milford was unable to convert and the visitors went into the break trailing 18-16.
The second half was a bit sloppy as both teams struggled to capitalise on their scoring opportunities, but the Panthers managed to score the first try of the second term when centre George Jennings crossed five minutes after the break.
Hawkins chalked up a try assist midway in the second half when he combined with Ahearn down the left to put interchange forward Tim Sloman in for a try adjacent to the posts. However, Milford missed the conversion from a relatively simple position meaning the Raiders trailed 22-20 with a quarter of the game left.
Penrith were particularly strong during the next 15 minutes of play, controlling the ball well and forcing three repeat sets with an astute kicking game, but the Raiders goal line defence rallied strongly and managed keep their opponents at bay.
Rueben finally put the Raiders in front in the 76th minute when he grabbed his match winner after being put into space by Cornish. Utility back Mitch Cronin then put the icing on the cake for the Green Machine when he managed to score a try after the siren when the Raiders defence hustled the desperate Panthers into turning over the ball on a fifth tackle play.
The Raiders' next game will be against the sixth placed Sydney Roosters on Saturday afternoon at Canberra Stadium.
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