Canberra Raiders open NRL account with thumping of Wests Tigers
Canberra have continued their dominance of Wests Tigers with a 46-6 thrashing, giving them their first victory of the NRL season.
After running up a combined score of 112-16 in their two encounters last season, the Raiders were ruthless at GIO Stadium on Sunday afternoon, scoring eight tries to one.
Captain Jarrod Croker made a sterling return from a knee injury while Jordan Rapana showed how dangerous he could be in attack with a double that took his record to eight tries in his past three matches against the Tigers.
The game was evenly poised five minutes before halftime but back-to-back Canberra tries stunned the Tigers as they went to the break.
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After Tigers forward Sauaso Sue went from the ground for a concussion test, the home side pounced. Quick ball movement out to the right allowed Rapana and he turned provider minutes later, finding space on the right and chipping inside for a Blake Austin try.
The Raiders carried the momentum into the second half, with 18-year-old Nick Cotric scoring his first NRL try set up by Aidan Sezer, who latched on to a sloppy Tigers error shortly after the break. The 18-year-old's four-pointer was converted by Croker, who continued his lethal form in front of goal and opened up an 18-point advantage.
Rapana recaptured his sparkling form from last season, breaking through the Tigers' defence to set up fullback Jack Wighton 10 minutes later. Croker had further cause for celebration when he found Wighton had tapped the ball back, and the skipper had enough space to cross to increase the deficit to 28.
Wrecking ball Junior Paulo threw his imposing frame at Luke Brooks, knocking him to the ground and setting up Elliot Whitehead for the easiest of finishes, while Rapana completed the rout in the dying minutes and Croker nailing his seventh goal from eight attempts. Sue's second-half reappearance was short-lived when he copped another knock attempting to tackle Dave Taylor, who was solid in his return to the NRL.
Chris Lawrence also sat out the majority of the second term after failing a concussion test, while Kevin Naiqama was the third Tiger who came off after a head knock in the closing stages.