Two ref calls cost Canberra at Cronulla

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The Cronulla Sharks and the Canberra Raiders would kick off Friday night football in the Sutherland Shire, with both teams desperate for the two points. Both teams were coming off wins last week and would look to close the gap on the teams ahead, with the sharks wanting to move into the top 4 and the Raiders wanting to close within a win of the 8. Cronulla would make no changes, while the Raiders made two changes. Aidan Sezer would leave the squad with an injury, so Blake Austin moved into the halves and Jack Murchie would come in on debut.

It would not be a pretty start for the Raiders, as the swirling wind cause Brad abbey to drop a bomb within 90 seconds. Jordan Rapana would be sent to the bin for a professional foul in the tackle after that drop and the Sharks would capitalize through a barreling try to Andrew Fifita. He would break two tackles from 10 metres out and dive over to open the scoring, with Chad Townsend converting to make it 6-0.

Townsend would have the chance to make it 8-0, but he would hit the post. In the end, it would not matter as some magical play from Cronulla would see Wade Graham offload to Valentine Holmes.  He would pass quickly outside to a flying Edrick Lee, who would offload on the inside to Ricky Leutele for a great try. Townsend would make no mistake from out wide to make it 12-0.

The Raiders would hit back a few minutes later, with Jordan Rapana maing amends for his sin-binning with a good run up the guts, offloading to BJ Leilua. He would break through the Sharks defense and set up Brad Abbey in the inside for the Raiders first points next to the posts. Sam Williams would convert his first attempt in the NRL to make it 12-6.

Valentine Holmes would be threatening all night long, and he would get a try to boot for his efforts, slicing through the line like a hot knife through butter to make it 18-6 with just 4 minutes to go in the first half, however it would not end there. Wade Graham would burrow over from dummy half with just seconds left to make it 22-6 at the break.

Wade Graham would not return in the second half and the Sharks would do what the Raiders did in the first half, dropping the ball during the first set. A penalty later and Blake Austin would scoot away, trying to get over before offloading back to BJ Leilua for an easy try 90 seconds after the re-start. Sam Williams would convert to make it 22-12, and the Raiders would continue the attack. Josh Hodgson would be held up and stripped by Val Holmes to deny the Raiders another try.

It wouldn't last long though, with BJ Leilua grabbing his second after a huge linebreak from Elliot Whitehead saw the second-rower taken 8 out. Hodgson would set up the centre with a chest pass and it would end up being 22-18 in a flash.

The Sharks would get the next points, but it would come with a lot of controversy as a possible knock on by Jesse Ramien  was picked up by the touch judge, who raised his flag. Everyone except Sione Katoa stopped, while the Sharks winger would go in to score. We would go upstairs, but it would be deemed a try as the Sharks would go 10 points up. The referees would then call a shocking forward pass to deny the Raiders a try to hit back, in what will be the most talked about moments of the year.

Jordan Rapana would get one back to ensure that Canberra do not die wondering, however the Sharks would hold on to get a controversial 28-24 win at home.

Luke

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