Raiders outgun Dragons at Nines
Game 7 produced a series of long-range and spectacular tries as the Raiders downed the Dragons 28-20 in their opening clash of the 2016 Downer NRL Auckland Nines.
The Dragons were forced to drop out twice early in the game but recovered both times and absorbed the early pressure, before scoring first as winger Kiti Glymin, who latched onto a cross field kick on the touch line, produced a perfect ball back inside for Kalifa Faifai Loa to touch down.
Jordan Rapana hit straight back from Canberra when he collected a floating pass out wide from Kurt Baptiste, but a missed conversion left them down 6-4 at half time.
Brenko Lee raced through a gap early in the second half to set the stage for Lachie Croker to put Luke Bateman over with an inside pass and earn the lead for the first time. Lee then went over himself when he pushed up to intercept a pass from former Raiders teammate Josh McCrone and stroll easily to the line for a bonus zone try.
A beautiful inside ball from Jack De Belin put Kurt Mann through a tiny gap to run away for a long-range strike and level up at 13-all with a bonus zone try of his own. New Raiders recruit Kato Ottio reclaimed the lead with a strong effort from short range before Dragons rookie Matt Dufty streaked away for a long-range bonus zone try.
Length of the field efforts were clearly in vogue as Sam Williams returned fire with a long range run of his own to put Lachie Croker over before some marvellous work from Ottio and Jarrod Croker combined to set up Bateman's second to cap a 28-20 win.
Raiders legend Jason Croker praised his Lachlan's game-changing play late in the match.
"My favourite part of the game was when my nephew scored under the sticks, that was a good effort from him," Croker told NRL.com.
"It was a bit of a turning point, Lachlan backed up and got there and we were able to go on and win the game.
"We have just got to try and hold the ball because when you are defending back-to-back like that it is too hard."
Dragons playmaker and former Raider Josh McCrone said a couple of individual errors were ultimately to blame in his side's loss.
"We made a couple of key errors - we dropped the ball at the end and I threw an intercept for Brenko Lee to score - and that was probably the difference. That was two tries there and we lost by eight," McCrone said.
"On the intercept he stepped in and I should have shown-and-gone, it was a personal error.
"We completed pretty well in the end, but we need to play a bit flatter on the ball up next."
Canberra Raiders 28 (Bateman 2, Rapana, Lee, Ottio, L Croker tries) def St George Illawarra Dragons 20 (Faifai Loa, Mann, Dufty tries)