Raiders make it 3 in a row
by Brent Ford
(image credit Canberra Times)
A double from Jack Wighton and a handy performance from Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin, has helped the Raiders survive a scare from a depleted Cowboys outfit to score a 26-12 win at GIO Stadium tonight.
It looked like the Cowboys were really going to challenge the Raiders when early they responded following Wighton's opening try of the game, but every time they challenged the Raiders were able to answer. Kurt Baptiste again proved vital off the bench, creating a solid injection, ducking and weaving while on the field.
The Raiders forward pack was again busy with all starters getting over 100 metres in their carries, but what will warm the heart of Canberrans on a chilly night in the capital, will be the movement from their halves. Sezer and Austin both moving, and Austin showing shades of what made him the five eighth of the year in 2015.
The win sits the Raiders just one point outside the top four, and ends a hoodoo, with the Raiders defeating the Cowboys just twice since 2011, Jarrod Croker passed an important milestone and joined the 1300 club in points scored, such an impressive feat for a player so young.
Wighton was the stand out man of the match and in the process silenced the doubters, Coach Ricky Stuart was impressed with his fullback's performance in the face of adversity.
"Considering eight weeks ago so many people wanted me to drop Jack (Wighton) and get rid of Jack, people sit back now and laugh and say that was never the case, but it was," Stuart said.
"That's what you get when you show a bit of confidence, patience and belief in a person.
"Jack Wighton is different to a lot of fullbacks and that's why I love having him in my team."
Stuart then showed the close bond with he has with this squad, that has many believing he has this them on the right track.
"I love all my players, I don't single anyone out and I have faith in them," Stuart said.
The side will now enjoy the bye, before returning to GIO Stadium in a fortnight to face the New Zealand Warriors.
Canberra Raiders 26 (Tries: Wighton 2, Hodgson, Sezer; Goals: 5 Croker) Defeated
Cowboys 12 (Tries: Chudleigh, Hess; Goals: Lowe 2)