Canberra had to play with 12 men for nearly half an hour as they dominated an unusual Cronulla to win 30-10 on Sunday.
In front of 30,453 fans of the NRL’s Magic Round at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, the Raiders took their biggest win of the season, taking their first consecutive wins this year.
It was an ugly performance by the high-flying Sharks, but the main concern for coach Craig Fitzgibbon is a concussion suffered by skipper Dale Finucane.
Josh Papalii greeted Finucane with a powerful blow and the Sharks No. 13 drove the collision, but was met by Elliot Whitehead’s shoulder.
Finucane, unsteady on his feet, was unable to continue when umpire Liam Kennedy sent Whitehead to the sin box.
Finucane failed his HIA for the fourth time in the past two seasons and the latest concussion will no doubt worry Cronulla.
Canberra was reduced to 11 men at one point after Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad and Corey Horsburgh were both sent off for 10 on either side of halftime.
Cronulla, who shifted Nicho Hynes to fullback to cover Will Kennedy’s suspension, never got going. They had 60 percent possession in the second half, but could only score when Canberra was one man less.
Hynes played most of his football last year as a fullback for Melbourne, but he had a moment to forget when he dropped a Brad Schneider bomb as Papalii went down in the next set for the Raiders.
The Raiders also took advantage of a series of backline blunders from Cronulla’s Sione Katoa.
The winger was targeted for kicking halfback Matt Frawley with Sebastian Kris and Corey Harawira-Naera scoring tries after his mistakes.
Canberra lost to Nicoll-Klokstad just before half-time due to a professional foul, but it wasn’t until the 54th minute, when Horsburgh was in jail this time, that Katoa opened the scoring for the Sharks.
Cronulla’s only other attempt was a crash ball from Royce Hunt in the last minute Whitehead was off the field.
Schneider, who had scored a penalty in the first half, bagged a try late to ensure the Raiders scored a second consecutive win. Hudson Young crossed over for an escape attempt for the Raiders.