Canberra thrashed hapless Cronulla 40-12 in a seven-try NRL rout at Canberra Stadium.The Sharks were unable to stop the Raiders from piling on the points as the Green Machine that rolled into the 2010 finals continued from where they left off last year. Compounding the Sharks’s woes was the sending off of hooker Paul Aiton in the 74th minute for headbutting Raiders centre Joel Thompson. Meanwhile, in a major surprise, the Newcastle Knights scored seven tries against a poor Penrith at Penrith Stadium.Back in Canberra, the Raiders – already without Josh Dugan – did suffered a couple of setbacks. Captain Alan Tongue injured an AC joint after a shoulder charge on Cronulla prop Kade Snowden in the opening minutes and took no further part in the match, while prop Brett White was placed on report for knee lifting. The Sharks dominated the opening stanza. Fullback Nathan Gardner crossed the line off a pass from Anthony Tupou. But the pass was ruled forward. Just minutes later Luke Douglas scored for the Sharks and winger John Williams converted. However the Raiders almost immediately took control of the game, responding with a try to five-eighth Josh McCrone. The Raiders dominated the remainder of the first half with tries to Dane Tilse, former Shark Blake Ferguson and Jarrod Croker. Croker’s try followed a 40-20 kick from Canberra half Sam Williams, who had a brilliant game in his NRL debut and was arguably the man of the match. Cronulla denied themselves any chance of fighting back with some sloppy handling and missed tackles. Early in the second half, Gardner dropped the ball from a high kick and the Raiders punished him from the resulting scrum with a try to Jarrod Croker. Halfback Williams continued to show his class with a great offload to Joe Picker, who crossed the line. A late try from Nathan Gardner was one of the few bright spots for the Sharks, who also had Albert Kelly stretchered off. Despite losing captain Alan Tongue with a shoulder injury, which is likely to put him out for four to six weeks, early in the first half, the Raiders outclassed the pitiful Sharks. Seven Raiders players – Josh McCrone, Dane Tilse, Blake Ferguson, Jarrod Croker, Daniel Vidot, Joe Picker and Shaun Fensom – scored tries with debutant Blake Ferguson and half-back Josh McCrone outstanding. The Raiders pack led by David Shillington were simply too strong and co-ordinated for the hapless Sharks, who fell away badly after an impressive start. To cap a miserable afternoon, Sharks’ reserve hooker Paul Aiton was sent off for a head butt on former player Ferguson.

Advertisements