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Monday, January 25, 2021

Controversy mars Raiders’ grand final loss

The underdogs came undone, the favourites claimed back-to-back premierships, and what was an absorbing NRL grand final became marred in refereeing controversy.

Perched high in the sky at ANZ Stadium on Sunday 6 October, there was clear support for the Canberra Raiders in their first grand final appearance in 25 years. Resounding cheers rang around the stadium, there was an energetic Viking Clap, and raucous boos for their opponents.

But, unfortunately, it was not to be their day.

As the clock ticked down, the Canberra Raiders had the Provan-Summons Trophy within their reach, only for it to be snatched away.

Plenty has already been made of the refereeing decisions – the early incident when the ball ricocheted into the Roosters’ trainer (expect to see some rule changes in the off-season) and the last tackle debacle call #sixagain – but the Raiders had their opportunities.

They were unable to capitalise on their advantage when Roosters’ playmaker Cooper Cronk was in the sin-bin (credit to the Rooster’s defence), while Joey Leilua missed a golden opportunity to put Jordan Rapana over in the corner.

This is not to say the loss didn’t hurt. It was written on the players’ faces, there were tears from the fans (yours truly included), but there was also pride.

Those passing through Olympic Park after the match may have been confused about who had won; there were Raiders chants, the Viking Clap rang out, and there was a genuine feeling of ‘we’ll be back’.

The Green Machine will take a lot out of the grand final experience and, with the players on hand, there is no doubt they will continue to push for a premiership title.

To all those who hopped on the bandwagon, stay on board. There are some exciting times ahead for the Raiders.

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