The Canberra Raiders made it two wins from two starts, defeating the New Zealand Warriors in their first match behind closed doors.
Raiders centre Curtis Scott confirmed victory inside the final minute after a nice grubber kick from English halfback George Williams to score his first four-pointer for Canberra.
Not having fans inside the stadium was an unusual feeling as Ricky Stuart’s men ran out 20-6 winners at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast.
Elliott Whitehead scored in back-to-back weeks with the only try in the opening stanza, and fellow green machiners Sia Soliola and Bailey Simonsson scored their first tries of the year in the second half to ensure breathing space between the two outfits.
Raiders co-captain Josh Hodgson showed a touch of class following the conclusion of Saturday’s game by getting his players and the Warriors group in a circle to show recognition of the tough circumstances the kiwi side are facing with COVID-19 by thanking them for sacrificing time away from their families across the ditch to keep the competition running.
Before the encounter took place, the Raiders had only gone two from two once in the last 15 years, with that sole effort coming in the 2016 season, but now they can add 2020 to the books.
The Warriors looked like they were destined for another scoreless performance, which would have made them a team starting a campaign 0-2 with zero combined points for the first time in exactly 100 years, but a penalty try to substitute Kodi Nikorima in the final five minutes prevented that monkey jumping on their back.
Despite their performance not being equal to their display against the Gold Coast Titans in round one, Stuart’s men managed to get the job done at the expense of a Warriors side that is clearly struggling with performances on the pitch and issues off it.
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) March 21, 2020
One positive that Stuart will be delighted with was the defensive effort, especially in the first half with the Warriors having the majority of the footy down the Raiders end.
Williams is proving to be an important piece in the halves with his excellent defence, while substitute Siliva Havili was fantastic to add a much-needed spark from the bench.
The Raiders will now enjoy four of their next five games at GIO Stadium and it proves to be an excellent opportunity for the 1994 premiership winners to build a strong win/loss record.
The 2019 grand finalists will definitely miss the support of their Raiders fanbase, but as Stuart and the club have mentioned, the competition continues and that means it’s business as usual for the men in green.
Warriors 6-20 Raiders
Warriors tries: Nikorima. Conversions: Harris-Tavita.
Raiders tries: Whitehead, Soliola, Simonsson, Scott. Conversions: Croker (2).
Warriors: 1. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C), 2. Adam Pompey, 3. David Fusitu’a, 4. Adam Keighran, 5. Ken Maumalo, 6. Chanel Harris-Tavita, 7. Blake Green, 8. Leeson Ah Mau, 9. Wayde Egan, 10. Lachlan Burr, 11. Eliesa Katoa, 12. Tohu Harris, 13. Adam Blair.
Substitutes: 14. Kodi Nikorima, 15. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown, 16. Isaiah Papali’i, 17. King Vuniyayawa.
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. Joe Tapine, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Corey Horsburgh.
Substitutes: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Sia Soliola, 17. Michael Oldfield, 18. Sam Williams, 19. Ryan Sutton.