Dynamic performances from centre Edrick Lee and five eighth Mitch Cronin have propelled the Canberra Raiders Under 20s side to an emphatic 62 -30 victory over the Parramatta Eels on Sunday afternoon at Canberra Stadium.
Queensland representative Lee caused the Parramatta side plenty of headaches throughout the match scoring four tries and making four line breaks, while Cronin laid the foundation for the win through registering three try assists, two line break assists and scoring two tries himself.
The first half was quite an even contest with both sides showing a great deal of enterprise in attack by scoring four tries apiece. The Eels were the first on the board when hooker Luke Vescio crashed over from dummy half. However, the Raiders responded less than five minutes later when Lee side-stepped his way through some suspect Parramatta defence before offloading for Cronin to score a converted try.
Lee then put the Raiders ahead 12-6 in the 15th minute when he leapt high above the Parramatta fullback to catch a pin point bomb from Cornish and touched down adjacent to the posts. However, the Eels struck back in the 20th minute when halfback Robbie Kamato crossed after dummying close to the line to level the scores.
Raiders then regained the lead soon after, scoring two converted tries through winger Brad Smith and Cronin but Parramatta finished the half strongly scoring tries through second rower Jordan Hall and winger Semi Radradra to reduce the Raiders lead to four points at half time 24-20.
The Raiders won the game in the second half scoring seven tries to two. Interestingly, Parramatta were the first to score in the half when winger John Falou grabbed an unconverted try out on the left hand touch line to level the scores but from that point on it was all the Green Machine.
Two minutes later Raiders halfback Mitch Cornish sliced his way through the heart of the Parramatta defence to score a try which he promptly converted. This was in turn followed by two more tries to Lee in 49th and 54th minutes and one to winger Jonathan Rueben in the 58th minute.
Parramatta’s Pauli Pauli gave the travelling fans a glimmer of hope when he scored to reduce the Raiders lead to 16 points with 15 minutes left on the clock. However, any chance of a comeback was erased when interchange player Jordan Worboys and centre Matthew Allwood crossed for two tries in quick succession to open up a 28 point lead soon after. Lee had the last say in the match completing his quartet of tries in the 77th minute.
Coach Andrew Dunemann was pleased with the victory; however, he indicated that his team needed to improve defensively.
“Our defence was poor,” Dunemann said. “There’s no hiding from that.”
“The boys have the week off next week (because of the bye) and when we get back we definitely have got a bit of work to do. Obviously when you leak 30 points you’ve got to have a bit of a look at it (their defence).”
Like their first grade counterparts the junior Raiders have the bye next week and will play their next game against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium on the Friday 21st May.