It was a well-oiled Green Machine the last time these two sides met in last year’s Elimination Final in Canberra. The Raiders recorded their sixth successive victory with a decisive 34-16 drubbing of the Sharks to progress to the second week of the 2012 Finals Series.
The Raiders’ attack began to sing midway through the second half, scoring 18 points late in the game to blow Cronulla away once Todd Carney limped from the field.
The outside backs, in particular, had a field day for Canberra against an under-strength and under-siege Sharks line-up, with Sandor Earl and Blake Ferguson crossing for doubles.
The resurgent Canberra side put in a performance reminiscent of their 1990s heydays, running for 1341 metres (compared with Cronulla’s 1013), broke the line seven times, kicked a 40/20, owned the lion’s share of possession (54 per cent) and completed fewer missed tackles (17 compared with Cronulla’s 27) to not only dominate most key statistical categories, but, most importantly, the scoreboard, too.