Almanac Rugby league – NRL Round 2, 2012: Gold Coast v Canberra

Building a side with locals juniors

by Chris Parkinson

It’s not always easy being a Raiders fan; it seems like a lifetime ago that the Green Machine was at the peak of their powers. Canberra was a different place back then, buses were painted in the team colours and school tuck shops served up lime green milk. Since that time success has been fleeting, there have been consistent finals appearances, but ultimate success has not been attained.

One thing that a Raiders supporter can take heart in is that the playing roster consistently boasts one of the highest percentages of junior players in the NRL. The lure of big city lights and pop star lifestyles has not made it easy to retain some of this talent over the years, but there has always been more prodigious talent coming through to lessen the hit.

It brought a big smile to my face when I heard the news a couple of weeks ago that local junior Josh Dugan had re-signed. To secure the services of possibly the best attacking fullback in the league is fantastic news for Canberra rugby league. He joins other former juniors’ such as Campese, Fensom, Papali, Croker in committing to the future of the Green Machine.

To follow on the same line it was exciting to see the debut of Jack Wighton on Saturday night. Whist I am weary of putting too much of a wrap on him after only one game, the strong defence and smart attack gave indications of another exciting product of the Raiders under 20’s program. The knock back try assist from Wighton to Jarrod Croker was the highlight of the weekend for mine.

The Raiders had never won at Robina, and in recent encounters the Titans have had the wood over them. Add to this the good form shown by the Titans in comprehensively beating the Cowboys in the first round resulted in the bookies making the Titans 2.5 point favourites. Although the Raiders lost in round 1 to the chin strapping Storm, they did get close in pretty atrocious conditions. So I was happy to take the bookies on.

At the end of the first half the scores were tied at 12-12. In the first 20 minutes the Raiders surged to 2 try lead through the individual brilliance of Josh Dugan who showed his kicking skills with a 40-20 backed up in the next set with a try. Then a bomb to the left hand corner by Terry Campese was knocked back by Jack Wighton for Jarrod Croker to score a 4 pointer. The Titans got their act together in the last 20 and showed that if you can control the ball, the points will follow as evidenced with the tries to Jordan Rankin and Dominique Peyroux.

The second half was a slightly different matter. The Raiders dominated possession in the early part, but great defensive efforts from the likes of Nate Myles kept the Raiders from adding to their score. But eventually errors and too many missed tackles started to creep into the Titans game and tries from Joel Thompson and then another from Jarrod Croker gave the Raiders a comfortable lead. The Titans rallied late and had a couple of opportunities to reduce the margin, but it was all a little too late to have an impact on the final result.

It was an encouraging win for Coach Furner. There seems to have been a marked improvement in the ball handling and discipline across the board for the Raiders this year. The return of Terry Campese has also had a positive impact on the direction of the team. As for the Gold Coast, they had their opportunities, but were not able to capitalise. Maybe the win against the Cows in the first round was more a reflection on how bad North Queensland was. It could be a long and frustrating year for Coach Cartwright.

Canberra 24 (tries: Croker 2, Dugan, Thompson. Goals: Croker 4/4)
Gold Coast 12 (tries: Rankin, Peyroux. Goals: Prince 2/2)
Venue: Robina Stadium (Skilled Park)
Crowd: 11,378
Votes: 3 – Josh Dugan (CAN), 2 – David Shillington (CAN), 1 – Nate Miles (GC)
Milestone – Canberra Raiders first ever win at Robina stadium

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