Raiders winger Jordan Rapana will be sweating on his availability for the NRL season-opener after he was placed on report for a cannonball-like tackle in Canberra's 32-20 win over the Melbourne Storm at Griffith on Saturday night.
Rapana was prominent, kicking four goals and playing a pivotal role in two of Canberra's six tries, keeping himself in strong contention for the vacant starting spot in Canberra's backline.
But the 25-year-old, who only returned to the NRL last year after a six-year absence, faces a nervous wait on the assessment of the NRL's match review committee.
Rapana was placed on report in the first half for challenging the legs of Melbourne's Cameron Munster, who was being held up in a tackle. While it didn't appear Rapana charged into the tackle with great force, Munster's knee buckled as Rapana held on. The Storm playmaker stayed down initially, but returned to his feet and finished the game.
"I think I was a bit too late, I went too low on his knee," Rapana said. "I went low to chop his legs and I think I bent it a bit, but he seems all right. I apologised to him after the game ... it was accidental."
The Raiders have just one trial match remaining before their season-opener against the Cronulla Sharks on March 8.
Rapana's main rival for the the vacant outside back spot, Jeremy Hawkins, also played well, scoring two tries. While his first try was from a strong bullocking finish, Hawkins scored the closing try of the match when Rapana moved to fullback and put him into space with a superb long pass.
"He [Hawkins] went really well, I just hope I get another opportunity and make the most of it," Rapana said.
While both clubs fielded predominantly second-string squads, Raiders halves Mitch Cornish and Sam Williams continued their tight tussle for the starting halfback role.
Cornish played a hand in both of Canberra's opening tries, especially the first for Haydon Hodge when he slid across field and delivered a nicely timed pass.
While Cornish took on most of the general kicking, Williams chipped across field to help set up Canberra's third try, Rapana leaping high to bat the ball down for young back-rower Patrick Mago to crash over. While Cornish was rested for most of the second half, Williams also scored a try from a deflected grubber kick and chase.
Williams and Cornish are fin a duel to partner five-eighth recruit Blake Austin.
"They worked really well together so it's going to be a tough one to see who gets that spot," said hooker Glen Buttriss. "They both ran the ball well and put some nice plays on."
The Raiders led 16-10 at half-time and their fitness held up in the second. Teenage back-rower Tevita Pangai showed a lot of promise in attack and looks to be on track for a NRL debut sometime this season, while prop Luke Page scored a strong try in his debut.
The Raiders will look to field a full-strength team for the next and final trial, against the Newcastle Knights at Queanbeyan's Seiffert Oval on February 21.
CANBERRA RAIDERS 28 (Haydon Hodge, Jeremy Hawkins 2, Patrick Mago, Sam Williams, Luke Page tries; Jordan Rapana 4 goals) MELBOURNE STORM 20 (Young Tonumaipea 2, Richie Kennar, Tim Glasby tries; Cameron Munster, Shaun Nona goals). At Griffith
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