A competitive first half performance from the Eels NYC side was overshadowed by some shocking second half defence today in the side’s 62-30 loss to Canberra.
The Canberra Stadium crowd enjoyed a see-sawing first half where tries from both sides were scored every five minutes until the break, with the Raiders entering the sheds 24-20 ahead.
But it was a different story in the second half, with the Eels surrendering five tries in quick succession to an athletic Canberra side.
As impressive as Canberra centre Edrick Lee and halfback Mitch Cornish were, they were ably assisted by some of the Eels’ poorest defensive efforts this year.
The visitors started off on a good note, with five eighth Mitch Brasington kicking deep in the 5th minute to force the Raiders out of bounds on the kick-return.
Hooker Luke Vescio went over a minute later from dummy half to give the Eels a 6-0 lead following the Brasington conversion.
In the 10th minute the home side hit back, through a Mitch Cronin try following the first of countless busts from rangy Canberra centre Lee.
Lee was at it again five minutes later when he showcased his aerial skills, latching on to a cross field bomb to put his side ahead 12-6.
Eels halfback Robbie Kamoto squared the ledger in the 20th minute when he dummied, stepped and scored, with Brasington converting to make it 12-all.
Five minutes later, on cue, Canberra’s Brad Smith kept the scoring ticking over when he completed a nice shift of the ball from the home side, which Cornish converted to make it 18-12.
Another five minutes later it was Lee terrorising the Eels defence once again, with John Folau letting him through a gap before he offloaded to Cronin for the score, making it 24-12.
In the 35th minute returning Eels second rower Jordan Hall powered his way over after a break from Vescio, bringing the scores back to 24-16.
The play that followed minutes later was the try of the match. Centre Connor Broadhurst burst through a few tackles to start a chain reaction of busts and offloads from the Eels, with Pauli Pauli dishing to Vescio, Vescio to debutant Corey Makelim, who then got it out to winger Semi Radradra on the wing for a sensational team try. Brasington missed the conversion, leaving the Eels trailing 24-20 at the break.
It was a steep decline downhill from that point, with the Eels allowing the game to slip within their grasp within the space of eight minutes following the Raiders scoring tries seemingly at will, and often off the restart.
Centre John Folau - a late inclusion - offered the one highlight of the second half with a scintillating individual effort to score, but that was as good as it got for Eels fans who made the trip down the Federal Highway.
The Eels have their work cut out for them to correct their defensive deficiencies ahead of a Round 11 match-up with Cronulla, who they beat on the buzzer earlier in the year.