Ruthless Raiders smash Wests Tigers
A ruthless second half performance from the Canberra Raiders has blown the Wests Tigers away in a comprehensive 46-6 victory at GIO Stadium.
Strong performances from Raiders winger Jordan Rapana and Australian international Josh Papalii set the tone for the green machine, who piled on eight tries against an error-riddled Tigers outfit who completed at below 60 percent for the game.
It was a huge day out for the Raiders forwards, who monstered their way up field for more than 500 extra metres against Jason Taylor's men, who like last weekend against the Panthers, were their own worst enemies.
An early error from Tigers back-rower Chris Lawrence at the kick-off set the tone for the visitors, who completed only 60 percent of their sets for the entire game.
The visitors dominated much of the field position and opened the scoring against the run of play when Joey Leilua threw an intercept pass for David Nofoaluma to race 80 metres and score under the posts.
Tigers halves Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks came up with four repeat sets as the visitors were on top early, but the pressure was shortly relieved with two errors from back-rower Lawrence close on the attack.
Rookie winger Moses Suli was caught in field with Leilua and Elliott Whitehead showing some quick hands for Jordan Rapana to go over for his eighth try in five appearances against the joint venture.
Ricky Stuart would not have been happy after Junior Paulo lost the ball after points, before a strong hit from Sauaso Sue on Luke Bateman forced the ball loose in the following set.
James Tedesco was up to his usual roaming best with two half-breaks to give the visitors a sniff, but the final pass went to ground on two occasions with Blake Austin pulling off a try-saver on Jack Littlejohn.
With scores locked at 6-all in the dire opening, the Green Machine went back-to-back to head into the sheds with a 12-point lead – one would say not a true reflection of the opening half.
Journeyman Dave Taylor entered the field in the 30th minute and provided a strong hit on former Raider Joel Edwards, before the home side took control through Josh Papalii who ran a dominant line off Aidan Sezer to go over untouched.
The Raiders would then go back-to-back in style with Rapana breaking through on the right edge before kicking infield for Austin to get the perfect bounce and score a four-pointer against his former side.
Wests Tigers back-rower Sauaso Sue left the field before the break for a HIA assessment after a head clash with Raiders fullback Jack Wighton and lasted only a minute into the second half after another collision.
An error from Taylor close to the line for the Raiders was only trumped by a fumble from Tigers winger Kevin Naiqama, with Aidan Sezer quick to pick up the scraps and find 18-year-old Nick Cotric out wide for his first try in the NRL Telstra Premiership.
Jack Wighton made up for an error in the 50th minute with a try-saving tackle on Moses Suli, sending the youngest Tigers player into touch.
Rapana would then put the game to bed with 20 minutes remaining, splitting the Tigers up the middle before finding Wighton in support for the Raiders' fifth of the day.
Things got worse for the visitors with Lawrence and Kevin Naiqama taken off for concussion tests and failing to return, as the Raiders began to play the attacking brand that took them to the grand final qualifier last season.
Raider skipper Croker made a successful return to the game kicking seven from eight goals and strolled over the line after the Raiders kept the ball alive in the 62nd minute.
A barnstorming charge from Junior Paulo knocked Tigers halfback Luke Brooks off his feet and enabled Whitehead to blow the Raiders lead out to five converted tries as the game began to get ugly for the joint venture.
Rapana would cap off a memorable day going over for his second on the stroke of full-time after a perfectly placed kick from Austin in the corner, and now has eight tries from three appearances against the Tigers.
Raiders 46 (Jordan Rapana 2, Josh Papalii, Blake Austin, Nick Cotric, Jack Wighton, Jarrod Croker, Elliott Whitehead tries; Jarrod Croker 7 goals) defeated Wests Tigers 6 (David Nofoaluma try; Mitchell Moses 1 goal). Half-Time: Raiders 18-6. Crowd: 14,628.