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'Ugly' Raiders pretty to watch for Furner

Date

Jon Tuxworth

Raiders 20 Panthers 10

Sam Mataora cops some heavy defence. Click for more photos

Raiders pounce on the Panthers

Canberra kept its NRL finals hopes alive with a 20-10 round 23 NRL win over the Penrith Panthers at Centrebet Stadium on Sunday, August 12. Photo: Getty Images

After its crushing home loss to Gold Coast a month ago, you wouldn’t have backed Canberra to play finals with someone else’s money.

But Raiders coach David Furner was prouder than he has been all season after his side kept its playoff hopes alive with a scrappy 20-10 victory at Penrith this afternoon.

Furner has watched his side put cricket scores on quality teams at times this year.

And although it certainly wasn’t attractive, yesterday’s grinding win put a bigger smile on his face.

“We’ve had some very pretty wins and that’s an ugly one, but I like that type of football from this team,’’ Furner said.

“The first half wasn’t the best but I thought our defence, apart from the first try, was pretty gutsy.

“They were running harder than us [in the first half], and I thought we did that [to them] in the second half.’’

Down 6-0 at half-time against the struggling Panthers, the Raiders' season was just 40 minutes away from evaporating.

But a well-directed dressing room blast from Furner inspired the attitude adjustment Canberra needed to keep its finals hopes alive.

Penrith took the early lead through a fourth-minute try to winger Josh Mansour, and only scrambling defence prevented Canberra being further behind at the break.

And while they needed some divine intervention from the football gods, Canberra rediscovered its intensity in the second half to keep its September dream in tact.

Six minutes after the break Panthers fans were in uproar when Raiders centre Jarrod Croker was awarded a controversial try.

Video referee Paul Mellor ruled Croker’s hands didn’t touch the ball contesting a high kick with David Simmons, and gave the 21-year-old’s 16th try of the year the green light.

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary was fuming about the incident after the match.

“He [Mellor] must have been watching something different to me, I actually thought it was a no-brainer,’’ Cleary declared.

It proved the critical slice of fortune Canberra craved to take its season off life support.

Just seven minutes later Lady Luck again smiled on the Raiders when five-eighth Josh McCrone snapped up a loose ball from a Luke Walsh grubber to run 65 metres and score.

Midway through the second half the Raiders capitalised on another break when a McCrone attacking kick rebounded off a Penrith defender, straight into the arms of second rower Joe Picker, who crashed over.

A Croker penalty goal with 10 minutes left handed Canberra a 14-point buffer before Penrith playmaker Lachlan Coote scored a consolation try in the dying minutes.

It is just the second time the Raiders have secured back-to-back wins this year after last week’s home victory over Brisbane.

The Broncos’ loss to Canterbury yesterday means Canberra is just two points outside the eight, behind the Queenslanders and Wests Tigers.

It takes on the freefalling Roosters at home next week, a golden opportunity to square the season ledger at 11-11.

Already decimated by injuries, the Raiders had to also contend with the withdrawal of Dane Tilse due to family reasons.

The in-form prop rang Furner at 4.30am Sunday morning to inform him his wife Katie was going into labour with the couple’s first child.

It proved a false alarm, but Furner praised young bookends Sam Mataora and Mark Nicholls for stepping up in Tilse’s absence.

With Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Brett White also injured, it meant David Shillington was the sole member of the Raiders' much-vaunted prop quartet to play.

The skipper responded by playing big minutes in a massive 146-metre, 26-tackle effort.

“Tilsey rang me about four o’clock this morning, and when I saw it was Tilsey I knew what it was about,’’ Furner said.

“The players we were missing [up front] were pretty handy, but what we did have was a couple of young ‘fronties’ [Mataora and Nicholls] who are doing a tremendous job.’’

Canberra’s win was offset by second-rower Josh Papalii being placed on report for a raised forearm on Coote when making a decoy run in the second half.

Star Penrith centre Michael Jennings was also booked twice, for attacking the legs of McCrone when making a kick, and a high shot on Picker.

Papalii already has 75 carryover points, having pleaded guilty to a late-tackle charge after Canberra’s round 20 win at Cronulla.

But Furner indicated the club would likely contest the charge should the judiciary panel today deem he has a case to answer.

“I honestly think Coote ran into him,’’ Furner said.

“He [Coote] is the defender, and if someone comes in on your natural reaction is to do that [protect yourself].

“What’s he supposed to do? A bloke’s coming in to belt you, and it’s not as if he [Coote] is coming in there to drive in the tackle.

“That’s my thoughts but I’ll have to have a look at it.’’

CANBERRA RAIDERS 20 (J Croker J McCrone J Picker tries J Croker 4 goals) bt PENRITH PANTHERS 10 (M Gordon J Mansour tries L Walsh goal) at Centrebet Stadium. Referees: Jason Robinson, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 7437.

4 comments

  • While the win wasn't pretty, and all three tries had an element of luck to them, I was happy to see the Raiders show some guts and tough it out. Lachlan should change his last name from Coote to 'Cat' - Papa barely touched him!

    Commenter
    Branko
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    August 13, 2012, 7:24AM
    • I think Papa should change his last name to lowblow. What sort of bloke hits the smallest bloke on the field when he isn't looking. Real tough. Raiders have no chance of making the semis.

      Commenter
      Mickyb
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      August 13, 2012, 8:02AM
      • It was a good win. Penrith had nothing to lose and played their best but we held them out with effort and commitment.

        Mickyb, think you might be exaggerating about the Papalii incident a little bit. There wasn't much in it and it was far less dangerous than Jennings' late hit on McCrone.

        Sounds to me like you're a sad Penrith fan. Don't worry, your team will be right when your best player, Luke Lewis, comes back. Oh, that's right...he's not coming back. Whoops.

        Commenter
        Luca Brasi
        Date and time
        August 13, 2012, 9:45AM
        • If they play any of the top teams and serve up the soft rubbish they did in the first half against penrith the wooden spooners they will be down by 40 at half time. Besides the Mcrone trythey were lucky. Furner will NEVER get this team to the GF. Lets be truthfull he is only there because of his brother and McIntyre. They did a marvelous job of waiting till ricky stuart signed with parramatta so furner could keep his job. Mal fell on his sword and i am pretty sure the boys dug deeper for him.

          Commenter
          pete
          Date and time
          August 13, 2012, 1:01PM
          Comments are now closed

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