A Clint Gutherson field goal in the second period of golden point proved to be the heartbreaking difference as the Canberra Raiders suffered a 25-24 defeat and a third loss in their last four outings.
Ricky Stuart’s men were slow to get out of the blocks, but proceedings were back and forth for the majority of the contest with both sides crossing the try line four times.
The first half saw a handful of injuries, but the big talking point of the game came from a moment few fans may have seen and which is still largely a mystery.
Towards the end of the first half, Corey Horsburgh was tackled by Ryan Matterson. Horsburgh took issue, particularly when the Eels second-rower lingered in the ruck.
A scuffle on the ground between the pair brought the team’s together with much pushing and shoving.
It was then apparent that Horsburgh’s foot was injured in the tackle and he was helped from the field by Raiders trainers.
Visibly upset, in tears, he shouted at the opposition and gave ‘the bird’ to Eels fans as he headed for the sheds. Horsburgh didn’t return to the field. He was later filmed in the sheds with his foot in a bucket of ice.
The green machine showed great determination and heart in the dying embers of the second half as fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad produced back-to-back tries to force golden point at Bankwest Stadium, but ultimately they left empty-handed.
It is easy to sit back and dissect the negatives that are surrounding the club at the moment.
However, Stuart will be proud of the effort his team showed, especially in the second half when the game seemed out of reach when Maiko Sevo scored in the corner and the scoreline read 24-12 as time trickled down.
Raiders fans were right to expect more diversity in attack in the lead up to this game and CNK’s second try of the evening to force golden point gave fans the sort of footy Canberrans want to see and which makes the Raiders such a dynamic side.
It was a well-worked try from inside our own half and though you have to take into consideration that the Raiders were chasing the game at that point in time and their hands were forced into taking that approach, it’s the exciting style of rugby league that we want to see more of.
We want our outside backs to have more of an influence in matches to help break up the hard yards our forwards put in week in week out.
The result sees the Eels return to the top of the NRL ladder, while the Raiders dropped to sixth.
Next up on the schedule for the Canberra side is the 12th placed St George-Illawarra Dragons. A loss to the lowly Dragons would be a loud warning that something’s not right at Raiders HQ.
Paramatta Eels 25-24 Canberra Raiders
Eels tries: Matterson, Stone, Jennings, Sivo. Conversions: Moses, Gutherson (2). Field Goals: Gutherson.
Raiders tries: Papalii, Whitehead Conversions: Croker (4).
Eels: 1. Clinton Gutherson, 2. Maiko Sevo, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Waqa Blake, 5. Blake Ferguson, 6. Dylan Brown, 7. Mitchell Moses, 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard, 9. Reed Mahoney, 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Shane Lane, 12. Ryan Matterson, 15. Marata Niukore.
Substitutes: 14. Ray Stone, 16. Oregon Kaufusi, 17. Brad Takairangi, 19. Daniel Alvaro.
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Jordan Rapana, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Curtis Scott, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Sia Soliola, 17. Hudson Young, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Corey Horsburgh.
Substitutes: 14. Siliva Havili, 15. Emre Guler, 16. Ryan Sutton, 18 Bailey Simonsson.