A young Saints fan enjoyed the AFL along with over 11,000 others on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
THE GWS Giants lost on the scoreboard, but won the battle of the codes at the turnstiles.
An extra 1300 fans turned up to see the Giants get pumped by nearly 100 points rather than the Raiders record another thrilling come-from-behind victory.
A Manuka Oval record for a Giants game of 11,092 turned up to see the AFL new boys go down to St Kilda on Saturday in the first AFL match under lights at the venue.
Three hours later, a crowd of 9699 witnessed the Raiders come from the clouds to overhaul the New Zealand Warriors 20-16 at Canberra Stadium.
While not wanting to engage in a code war, Giants coach Kevin Sheedy said the strong support showed the Canberra community had started to get behind the Giants.
''We really feel like we're starting to get more involvement in building our club [in Canberra] … they know that we're here, that we'll never leave,'' Sheedy said.
''Andrew Demetriou has stamped that we'll keep developing NSW and being a part of Canberra is just a huge important step in that direction along with western Sydney.
''And once we get that it'll be like Geelong supporters driving down to Melbourne to watch … we expect that to happen eventually [for Giants supporters in Canberra and Sydney].
''Great to see that 11,000 and we'll get more.''
In fairness to the Raiders, the Warriors are traditionally one of the lowest-drawing teams in the competition.
A crowd of 10,800 turned up to last year's match, won by the Raiders 32-12, which was played in perfect conditions on a Sunday afternoon.
Before that, crowds of just over 8000 were in attendance at their previous two games with the Warriors in 2009 and 2007 respectively.
Despite the attendance figures, Raiders chief executive Don Furner remained upbeat.
''I'm very happy with the almost 10,000 people that showed up there tonight. Great game for them to witness,'' he said.
''We're very happy we have supporters and hope to see an even bigger crowd next time we're back home.''
With the Giants game kicking off at 4.40pm and the Raiders starting nearly three hours later, a committed group of fans of both codes took in both games.
The Raiders issued a cheeky press release on Friday headlined, 'Come and see Canberra's local Giants', with a photo of their four front-rowers - David Shillington, Dane Tilse, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Brett White - in a not-to-subtle dig at their cross-town rivals.
The Giants play three games in Canberra every year as compared to the 12 of the Raiders and eight Super Rugby games for the Brumbies.
It was the first time this season the Raiders have failed to attract
at least a crowd of 10,000.
Their first home game against the St George Illawarra Dragons was watched by 12,115 fans, while 10,969 were on hand to see the Raiders beat the Roosters 24-22 last Sunday.
The Giants' next match in Canberra is against the Gary Ablett-led Gold Coast Suns on Saturday week.''When you see a player like that, he's a draw card, he's a draw card like Black Caviar,'' Sheedy said.
''When you get draw card players people [come], there's only 'x' amount of chances to see him in Canberra live.''