Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker became the youngest player in NRL history to reach 2,000 points as the Raiders comfortably defeated the Gold Coast Titans 24-6 in the side’s first hit out of the season.
The accomplishment also sees Croker move to seventh on the all-time leading point scorers list, which has him in company with some of the game’s greatest in Cameron Smith, Hazem El Masri, Johnathan Thurston, Andrew Johns, Jason Taylor and Daryl Halligan.
There were fears that the match between the two clubs would not take place due to coronavirus, but a consultation between the NRL and the ACT Government confirmed the encounter could go ahead as planned to the delight of the Canberra faithful.
Jack Wighton continued his sensational form from last season with a double, while Emre Gule scored his first NRL career try and Englishman Elliott Whitehead put the icing on the cake in the second half.
While Wighton was without a doubt the best Raider on the pitch, you could not look past Croker’s achievement, especially considering he reached the milestone at just 29 years of age and finished the game with a perfect 100 per cent conversion rate.
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) March 13, 2020
From winning the Under-20 NRL Grand Final with the outfit all the way back in 2008, Croker has been a constant feature in the first-grade side since his debut in 2009 and fans have built up a great level of admiration and love for the number three centre.
Croker has endured ups and downs throughout his 11 full seasons with the club, but with the team coming so close last year and the Goulburn-native continuing to break records at the start of his 12th campaign, the feeling of finally obtaining the NRL’s precious prize for the first time since 1994 is a pipe dream no more.
This Raiders team is going to stop at nothing to go one step further this time around and you can feel that they do not mind the added pressure of being one of the hunted teams in the competition.
Though the atmosphere didn’t match the feel of the record-setting games last year (maybe later in the year it will), there were still more than 10,000 at the game and the strong support is still very visible in the stands.
For the record, the famous Viking clap retains its power to excite and enthuse. But with uncertainty over coronavirus, it’s unknown when it will next be heard at GIO Stadium.
NRL Round one
Canberra Raiders 24-6 Gold Coast Titans
Raiders tries: Wighton (2), Gule, Whitehead. Conversions: Croker (4).
Titans tries: Don. Conversions: Taylor.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Dunamis Lui, 11. Corey Horsburgh, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joe Tapine.
Substitutes: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Michael Oldfield.
Titans: 1. Phillip Sami, 2. Anthony Don, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. Tyrone Peachey, 5. Dale Copley, 6. Tyrone Roberts, 7. Ash Taylor, 8. Jarrod Wallace, 9. Mitch Rein, 10. Sam Lisone, 11. Kevin Proctor (c), 12. Bryce Cartwrigh, 13. Jai Arrow.
Substitutes: 14. Nathan Peats, 15. Jai Whitbread, 16. Brian Kelly, 17. Jaimin Jolliffe.