A Jordan Rapana double and a strong second half performance by the Canberra Raiders helped them to a 30-12 victory over the Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium in the opening round.
Locked at 6-6 at half time, the Raiders scored four second half tries to get their season off to the perfect start.
The Raiders looked to have scored first points through centre Seb Kris after he crossed after 10 minutes.
However, the bunker found a knock on from Elliott Whitehead in the lead up which saw Kris’ try disallowed.
Both teams were muscling up well in defence making it tough to score. It took until the 26th minute to break the deadlock as Jacob Liddell scored from close range to give the Tigers a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders responded just before half time as Jordan Rapana pounced on a deflected grubber from George Williams to square it up at the break.
Ricky Stuart’s half time message clearly did the trick, with the Raiders dominating from the opening minutes of the second half.
A silly penalty from the Tigers gifted the Raiders field position which produced one of the moments of the match.
Making his Canberra Raiders debut and playing in his first game since April 2019, Ryan James bulldozed his way over the line to give his side a 12-6 lead.
A quick penalty goal extended the lead before Williams looked to have added another long range try until the bunker overturned the decision.
It didn’t take Canberra long to get that try though and Williams was involved again.
He put through a pinpoint kick to Bailey Simonsson who leapt high to take the ball and offloaded to Hudson Young who scored untouched to give the Raiders a 20-6 lead after 55 minutes.
Canberra had their fourth try in a row after Curtis Scott scooped up a loose pass from the Tigers and found Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad who raced 55 metres to score.
The Tigers got one back through David Nofoaluma to reduce the margin to 24-12 with 7 minutes remaining.
Rapana put the finishing touches on the victory after getting on the end of some Joe Tapine brilliance to score his second.
To add a little bit of drama to the end of the game, Josh Papalii was sent to the sin bin after the final siren for giving away consecutive penalties.
It was a solid first game back in the NRL for the Green Machine, with Williams the standout player, involving himself in just about everything. He also looked very comfortable kicking for goal in the absence of Jarrod Croker, slotting 5 from 6 attempts.
The Raiders next play the Cronulla Sharks at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday 21 March at 6.15pm.
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