Canberra had to overcome 12-man play for nearly half an hour as they overpowered an insane Cronulla to claim a 30-10 win on Sunday.
In front of 30,453 fans at the NRL Magic Round at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, the Raiders secured their biggest win of the season and posted back-to-back wins for the first time this year.
It was a poor performance by the high-flying Sharks, but the biggest concern for coach Craig Fitzgibbon will be a concussion suffered by captain Dale Finucane.
Josh Papalii met Finucane with a powerful punch and the Sharks’ No. 13 took advantage of the collision, only to run into Elliot Whitehead’s shoulder.
Finucane, unsteady on his feet, was in no condition to continue when referee Liam Kennedy sent Whitehead to the sin bin.
Finucane failed his HIA for the fourth time in the last two seasons and the latest concussion will no doubt have Cronulla worried.
Canberra were at one point reduced to 11 men after Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Corey Horsburgh were dispatched for 10 each side at the halftime break.
Cronulla, who traded Nicho Hynes to fullback to cover Will Kennedy’s suspension, never really got off the ground. They had 60 per cent of possession in the second half but could only score when Canberra were a man down.
Hynes played most of his football at fullback for Melbourne last year but had a moment to forget when he fired a bomb from Brad Schneider with Papalii crashing out in the next set for the Raiders.
The Raiders also capitalized on a series of errors down the baseline by Cronulla’s Sione Katoa.
The winger was the target of kicks from running back Matt Frawley with Sebastian Kris and Corey Harawira-Naera scoring tries thanks to their errors.
Canberra lost Nicoll-Klokstad to a professional foul just before halftime, but it wasn’t until the 54th minute, when Horsburgh was this time in the bin, that Katoa opened the scoring for the Sharks.
Cronulla’s only other attempt was a Royce Hunt crash ball in the last minute when Whitehead was off the field.
Schneider, who had scored a penalty in the first half, scored a late try to ensure the Raiders secured a second straight win. Hudson Young snapped a breakaway attempt for the Raiders.