35 Years - 35 Great Games

Canberra Raiders history

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35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 4, 2016, 12:52 pm

To help celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Canberra Raiders, during the off season we will present the best match from every season of the Canberra Raiders... and we start from the beginning in 1982.

1982 - First taste of victory

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The worst point of the Raiders debut season came in Round 7 at Belmore Oval - a 54-3 thrashing from the Eels. But something better was to come on the Sunday at Seiffert Oval in the round eight clash against Newtown – the team that met premier Parramatta in the 1981 Grand Final.

It turned into a tense and gripping contest. Canberra trailed 8-2 at the break, but a barnstorming try from John McLeod after a David Grant bust shortly after half time brought the Raiders back into the contest. Late in the match, the Raiders trailed the Jets 11-7, but a young replacement, Chris O’Sullivan proved the difference. He ran past two Newtown defenders, leapt over some more, and lunged over the try line. It produced a 12-11 lead for the home side, which the Raiders held until the hooter sounded.

It’s a cliché to say “the crowd went wild”, but it certainly did. There seemed to be many more in attendance than 9,982. The seven game losing streak was over, the local team had won its first ever match and the roar was as loud as if Canberra had won the premiership. After the match captain David Grant simply said: “We are on top of the world”.

Goal kicker Steve O’Callaghan was the other hero of the first win. The Raiders scored just two tries to Newtown’s three. O’Callaghan was a reluctant kicker that day, with coach Furner revealing: “O’Callaghan had to be press ganged into it. I called for volunteers to take the goal kicks at training during the week, but O’Callaghan is such a quiet type that he didn’t say anything. Fortunately I had seen him kick before and knew he was up to it”. O’Callaghan kicked three from three, while normally reliable Newtown goal kicker, Ken Wilson, landed only one from five attempts.

Second rower Ashley Gilbert recalled the match later: “It was like winning a grand final. Like batting in your first Test match and finally getting off the duck”. Hooker Jay Hoffman said: “I’d injured my neck towards the end of the game and had to go to the hospital for some x-rays. All I wanted to do was to get back for the celebrations. To carry that losing streak for so long, it was a momentous occasion.” Others were thinking about more than just the win. “I remember walking into the sheds after our first win against Newtown and David Reid said ‘You beauty, 500 bucks.’ Most of the other clubs were paying $200 a win, but we were on $500. That was a lot of money back then,” winger Steve O’Callaghan said.

The Jets had been grand finalists the year before and in the midst of Seiffert celebrations, it must have felt like they had lost another decider. Four future Raiders were amongst their midst - Allan McMahon, Ray Blacklock, Dean Lance and John Ferguson. Some of them would see much better days in the national capital.

The day after the Newtown victory, Sydney commentator Ron Casey sent a telegram to Canberra Raiders headquarters at Queanbeyan. He had predicted the Raiders would not win a match in their first year. All it said was: “Sincere congratulations – JC is infallible. RC is not.” It would not be the last time that the so-called Sydney experts would be proven wrong by the team from the national capital.

1982 Round 8 - Canberra Raiders 12 (Jon McLeod, Chris O'Sullivan tries, Steve O'Callaghan 3 goals) defeated Newtown Jets 11.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Rowan Brennan 2. Steve O'Callaghan 3. Craig Bellamy 4. Frank Roddy 5. David Reid 6. Lloyd Martin 7. Terry Wickey 8. Carl Frommel 9. John McLeod 10. Jon Hardy 11. David Grant (c) 12. Jay Hoffman 13. Jeff Simons

14. Gary Britt 15. Graham Waugh 16. Chris O'Sullivan 17. Peter Elliott

Coach: Don Furner
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 5, 2016, 12:57 pm

1983 - Upset of the decade

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Round 16, 1983. The Raiders took on Parramatta at home. The Eels had defeated Canberra by huge scores in their previous three meetings. The 54-3 defeat from 1982 still ranks as one the worst losses in Raiders history. And when the Eels came to Seiffert in 1982, they were on their way to a third straight premiership, after back to back grand final wins in 1981-82. But in a remarkable upset, the Raiders held Parramatta scoreless, the first time in 18 years, and toughed out an 8-0 victory in front of 15,578 fans.

Ron Giteau scored all the points for the Raiders that day – a try and two penalty goals. The Raiders led 4-0 at half time through two penalty goals.

During the break, coach Furner asked the team if they could continue to stifle the Eels in the second half. “To a man, they all shouted ‘yes’!” Furner said. The only points in the second period came from the try from Giteau, scored at the 47 minute mark. The Raiders just smothered Parramatta for the rest of the match.

The Eels were without Peter Sterling and Eric Grothe on Test duty, but the Raiders too were missing captain Allan McMahon, Jon Hardy and regular fullback Steve O’Callaghan. The next day, the headlines in Sydney read “Eels humbled by discards” and “Eels stunned”.

Second rower John McLeod later recalled: “I remember we beat Parramatta 8-0 around the time that Irishman Bobbie Sands died [in jail from a hunger strike]. In the sheds after the game one of us yelled out, ‘What’s Parramatta and Bobbie Sands got in common? Ate nothing, ate nothing!”

Hooker Jay Hoffman said later of the match: “I don’t think there would have been too many better wins from a club point of view. It wasn’t luck, it wasn’t because they were missing their stars, we just played better footy.”

Halfback that day, Chris O’Sullivan recalled: “That would be the pick of them in the early years. We just went out and got stuck straight into them. We knocked them around severely, we really gave them a bashing. We were in their faces. They didn’t cross our try line and never looked like it either.”

1983 Round 16 – Canberra Raiders 8 (Ron Giteau try; Ron Giteau 2 goals) defeated Parramatta 0 at Seiffert Oval.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Gary Wurth 2. Terry Fahey 3. Ron Giteau (c) 4. Craig Bellamy 5. Ray Blacklock 6. Percy Knight 7. Chris O'Sullivan 8. Ashley Gilbert 9. Paul Elliott 10. John McLeod 11. David Grant 12. Jay Hoffman 13. Gary Spears

14. Angel Marina 15. Ian Hamilton

Coach: Don Furner
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 5, 2016, 9:51 pm

1984 - Not bad for a bush team

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1984 saw Canberra improbably finish the season on equal fifth with the Rabbitohs... only to be knocked out by South Sydney in a play off for the last finals place. Instead of being referred to as the “Faders”, the media started to refer to Canberra as the “Green Machine”. But the best performance of season 1984 was again against the Parramatta Eels.



The three time premier visited Seiffert Oval in round 19. It was the match of the round on a Sunday afternoon and the Eels fielded a team littered with big names... Sterling, Kenny, Cronin, Grothe, Price. Canberra had caused a massive upset in 1983 against the Eels, and a record crowd of 17,407 turned up to see if this new Green Machine could repeat the feat.

They could. It was a battle in the first half, the struggle between the forwards underlined when a clash between David Grant and Parramatta forward Chris Phelan resulted in 15 stiches between them.

Canberra then played Parramatta at their own game in the second half, and came out on top. The Raiders trailed 10-8 with less than 15 minutes remaining. But a repeat set on Parramatta’s line gave David Grant his chance. He crashed over for a try and Giteau’s conversion delivered a 14-10 lead. The Eels challenged strongly in the final minutes, but could not score.

Don Furner’s reaction after the match would be often repeated during the rest of the season. "Not bad for a bush team, are they?" he said. "It was a team effort but the forwards played a big part in our win today. The big men took it up and the rest worked hard on defence without stopping. We knew if we let them run they’d do it all day. We tackled, tackled and then attacked. Most importantly we kept possession and it was a good win."

Parramatta would again go on to make the Grand Final in 1984, but their coach John Monie admitted: "The Raiders broke us up the middle – that has not happened to us before and it must not happen again. Canberra’s defence was excellent and their big men hit us hard with a result we dropped a lot of ball that they were able to make good use of."

Something had started to brew in the national capital.

1984 Round 19 – Canberra Raiders 14 (Matthew Corkery, David Grant tries; Ron Giteau 3 goals) defeated Parramatta 10 at Seiffert Oval.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Steve O'Callaghan 2. Bill Walker 3. Ron Giteau 4. Craig Bellamy 5. Ian Hamilton 6. Ivan Henjak 7. Chris O'Sullivan 8. Dean Lance 9. Paul Elliott 10. Sam Backo 11. Grant Ellis 12. John McLeod 13. David Grant

14. Matthew Corkery

Coach Don Furner
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by -TW- » December 5, 2016, 10:09 pm

Isn't 68-4 vs melbourne the worst loss?

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 5, 2016, 10:25 pm

-TW- wrote:Isn't 68-4 vs melbourne the worst loss?
Yes, thanks, you're completely right.
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35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 7, 2016, 10:06 am

1985 - Upset of the minor premiers

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Dean Lance launches at Ricky Walford.

1985 was a disappointing season for the Raiders after the strong showing of 1984. Canberra failed to win a match in the final eight rounds. With just eight wins, it was a season of few highlights.

Early in the season, in Round 4, Canberra produced a gutsy win against South Sydney at Redfern. Terry Regan was sent off after a shoulder charge on five eighth Neil Baker. The report from both touch judges was for an elbow to the head. Souths had had no answers in the first half. Canberra led at the break 20-0 and Regan was one of the try scorers before his 39th minute dismissal.

Despite the one man advantage for the entire second half – and a 17-4 penalty count in favour of Souths – the Raiders held on grimly. The Rabbitohs could not score until the 65th minute, and their only other try came two minutes from time. Coach Don Furner said his team’s 26-12 victory was his team’s most complete away performance to date. Regan was subsequently cleared by the judiciary of the elbow. Frustratingly, it was ruled to simply have been a shoulder charge - ironically, something he would have been suspended for today.

However the best victory of 1985 came against the eventual minor premiers, St George, at the unusual venue of the Newcastle International Sports Centre. It was the second weekend in a row that top line football had been played at Newcastle, with the NSW City-Country match taking place at the same venue in the previous week.

The Raiders had not won in a month. The closest they had come to a win was a 20-20 draw against the Sea Eagles. The Saints had lost just once all season. But a big crowd of 15,160 saw the Raiders spring out of the blocks against the team running first in the competition.

Captain Ron Giteau scored 16 of the 20 points Canberra posted in the first half, through two tries and four goals. The first was the result of a long kick from Craig Bellamy, which Saints fullback Glen Burgess could not handle. Giteau chased and kicked ahead for himself, going over in the corner. Less than 10 minutes later, Giteau intercepted a Billy Noke pass and he scored under the posts. And then just before half time, Terry Regan made a 35 metre break to set up Mick Aldous - giving the Raiders a 20-4 advantage at the break.

The Saints were fired up by coach Roy Masters at the break and they launched wave after wave of attack. St George had a mountain of possession, favoured by a 6-3 penalty count and a 9-5 scrum count, but the Raiders' bone crunching defence withstood them. The Saints were only able to score with three minutes remaining.

Coach Don Furner was relieved more than anything after the 20-10 victory. "We had a great tackling effort in the second half and have played extremely well against the top sides we have met in recent weeks. It is good to get the two points at last," he said. But in 1985, the Round 12 defeat of the Saints could not be bettered.

1985 Round 12 - Canberra Raiders 20 (Ron Giteau 2, Mick Aldous tries, Ron Giteau 4 goals) defeated St George Dragons 10 at Newcastle International Sports Centre.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Mick Aldous 2. Phil Carey 3 Ron Giteau (c) 4. Chris Kinna 5. Brad Williams 6. Craig Bellamy 7. Chris O'Sullivan 8. Dean Lance 9. Rowan Brennan 10. Sam Backo 11. Jon Hardy 12. Jay Hoffman 13. Terry Regan

Coach Don Furner
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35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 8, 2016, 7:43 am

1986 - Promise of the future

1986 started with a lot of hope for the Canberra Raiders, with the likes of Mal Meninga, Gary Belcher and John Ferguson signing with the club. But by the middle of the year, it was already clear the season was over - with just two victories and nine defeats. The discontent of the players with the old fashioned coaching style of Don Furner became public and a push for reserve grade coach Allan McMahon to take over emerged. The year finished with just eight wins and Canberra was just three competition points away from the wooden spoon.

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Sam Backo barging up field.

With just two rounds remaining, the Raiders faced the team at the top of the ladder, the Eels, at Seiffert Oval. Parramatta would go on to take the minor premiership and win the Grand Final. But Canberra produced a magnificent performance to topple them 19-12.

Mal Meninga produced his best performance in green. He was involved from the outset, producing strong runs and great defence. But every player played his part.

"It makes you wonder where we would be if we had won some of the close games earlier in the year," Don Furner said after the match.

"To beat Parramatta, we had to have everybody playing well, and that is just what happened out there today. Meninga was outstanding, the halves played well, the wingers played well, the forwards got on top. Carey and Belcher played well. Everything went right."

"Our win shows just how close the competition is this year when the bottom side can beat the top side. When we first joined the competition the difference between the top sides and the bottom sides was 100 yards. Now it's down to 10."

The Eels coach John Monie refused to comment after the match, as the loss saw the Eels' minor premiership hopes put in jeopardy. But Peter Sterling later said that the Raiders would have beaten any team in the competition on that Sunday at Seiffert.

Canberra scored early, the result of a move that went through seven sets of hands and saw Rowan Brennan touch down under the posts. The Eels bounced back scoring two tries - one through a bomb and another courtesy of a dropped ball which allowed Eric Grothe to run 60 metres for a four pointer. However, the Raiders' attack unleashed again just before half time. Mal Meninga made a great run, dummying to avoid Ray Price, with Belcher and Gilbert backing up. The teams went to the break at 12 apiece.

In the second half, the Raiders strong defence was not breached. A second try to Ashley Gilbert, set in motion by John Ferguson gave Canberra the lead - and stoic tackling stopped everything the Eels could try to get back into the match. Meninga sealed the win with a field goal 12 minutes from full time.

Just 8836 people saw one of the best victories in Canberra's short five year history. The Raiders won in all three grades against the powerhouse Eels for the first time. It was a promise of things to come.

1986 Round 25 – Canberra Raiders 19 (Ashley Gilbert 2, Rowan Brennan try, Mal Meninga 3 goals, field goal) defeated Parramatta 12 at Seiffert Oval.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Gary Belcher 2. Terry Fahey 3. Mal Meninga 4. Phil Carey 5. John Ferguson 6. Ivan Henjak 7. Chris O'Sullivan 8. Dean Lance 9. Ashley Gilbert 10. Rowan Brennan 11. Sam Backo 12. Jay Hoffman 13. Gary Coyne

Coach: Don Furner
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35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 9, 2016, 8:22 am

1987 - Raiders charge to Grand Final

1987 was the year when it all started to come together for the Canberra Raiders. The Green Machine made the semi finals for the first time, finishing third on the competition ladder. And despite losing the first match in the finals series, the Raiders left a trail of destruction in their next two matches at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

First up was a sudden death clash against the South Sydney Rabbitohs. The match started in sensational fashion, with Canberra targeting Souths' winger Steve Mavin with high balls and kicks. Three tries were conceded by Mavin and he was hooked after 16 minutes by coach George Piggins. Mavin was so shattered he showered and went home early.

It was 16-0 after 16 minutes and 28-2 after 31 minutes, wave after wave of lime green attack producing an avalanche of tries. Sam Backo rampaged in the forwards, while Peter Jackson, Gary Belcher, Ivan Henjak and Chris O’Sullivan were outstanding in the backs. 46-12. It was a magical day for the Green Machine and it was the start of Raiders fever in the national capital.

But the Grand Final qualifier following week was even better, more historic. It was the third time Canberra had played the Roosters in a month. The Green Machine had won against the Roosters in the final round of the regular season - controversially resting players - but had been defeated a week later in the first round of the finals.

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Mal Meninga steamrolls David Trewhella.

In the Preliminary Final, Mal Meninga made a heroic comeback, the arm he had broken covered in a huge arm guard. He wore jersey 21, the only jersey that would fit him, and ended up playing 64 minutes - after a week of speculation as to whether he would be fit. Meninga produced one of the most memorable moments in Raiders history when he smashed his way right over the top of Roosters forward, David Trewhella, to score a try - leaving Trewhella in a hole in the ground, snoozing.

The attack from Canberra was devastating, and the Raiders secured the victory in a 13 minute flurry in the second half, when Canberra was trailing 18-14, but surged to a 32-18 lead. The Roosters took the lead four times in the match, and the Raiders came back every time - winning 32-24.

"We just weren't going to be denied," captain Dean Lance said later. As [co-coach] Wayne [Bennett] said the other day, if the plane crashed at Goulburn, we'd walk to the SCG and still do our job."

Canberra had made the decider for the first time. The national capital was about to be engulfed in green fever.

1987 Preliminary Final – Canberra Raiders 32 (Gary Coyne 2, Peter Jackson, Matthew Corkery, Ashley Gilbert, Mal Meninga tries, Mal Meninga 2, Gary Belcher 2 goals) defeated Eastern Suburbs Roosters 24.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Gary Belcher 2. Chris Kinna 4. Peter Jackson 21. Mal Meninga 5. Matthew Corkery 6. Chris O'Sullivan 3. Ivan Henjak 8. Dean Lance (c) 9. Gary Coyne 10. Ashley Gilbert 11. Sam Backo 12. Steve Walters 13. Brent Todd

16. Terry Regan 7. Kevin Walters 22. Rowan Brennan 23. Glenn Lazarus

Coaches Don Furner and Wayne Bennett
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by Lui_Bon » December 9, 2016, 5:59 pm

Just to be picky, in 1985 St George were Minor Premiers. I think the Bulldogs might have an objection to the Dragons being labelled "Premiers".

Love the series, though.
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 11, 2016, 11:23 am

1988 - The year that got away

With heir apparent Wayne Bennett departing for the Brisbane Broncos after just one season, and the retirement of Don Furner, the Raiders turned to promising young coach Tim Sheens in 1988. Canberra had made the Grand Final the previous year, and Sheens was under pressure to go one better. It wasn't to be. The team finished third, despite major injury disruption and a heavy representative schedule. The Raiders ended by losing both matches of their finals campaign. But Sheens would often say later that 1988 was the title above all others that the Raiders should have won.



The most sensational match of the season was the 19-18 defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs in Week 1 of the finals. The Raiders mounted a huge comeback in the second half, after the Dogs led 16-6 at half time. The comeback started with a try to John Ferguson, and then Peter Jackson scored a magnificent individual try – charging down a Terry Lamb kick, and then pushing off Lamb and hooker Joe Thomas to score wide out. With Belcher’s sideline conversion, the match was tied 18-18. It looked like the Raiders momentum might produce a win, but a Terry Lamb conversion with seven minutes remaining gave the Bulldogs victory.

The contest was marked by controversial moments, that left Canberra asking, "what if"? The Raiders turned down a shot at penalty goal in the 35th minute, when trailing 14-6. Eight minutes into the second half, Sam Backo was sent to the sin bin for five minutes, after an alleged late shoulder charge on Terry Lamb.

In the 64th minute, the Raiders were denied a try to John Ferguson in the corner, after what seemed to be a fair pass from Kevin Walters was ruled forward. Shortly after, a blatant forward pass from the Bulldogs was missed, just before the winning Terry Lamb field goal. In the 75th minute, Dean Lance was sent from the field for an alleged high shot on Paul Dunn - and well after the incident. He was later exonerated. Finally, with a minute left on the clock, the Raiders received a penalty. It was a last chance to get in position for an equalising field goal, but Ricky Stuart uncharacteristically failed to find touch. "I certainly learned a valuable lesson out there today - I'll never do that again," Stuart said after the match.

If that finals match was the most sensational, the best was in Round 18 at the Sydney Football Stadium against the South Sydney Rabbitohs. It was a Friday Night Football match, a seven tries to nil romp, and a fifth win in a row. It knocked the Rabbitohs out of finals contention. The Raiders were running first and firmed as premiership favourites after the performance - with four games of the season left. Gary Belcher was outstanding, and involved in six of the seven tries. He scored two himself. Sam Backo and young forwards Glen Lazarus and Brad Clyde rampaged up front.

The Raiders led by just 6-2 at half time, with the only try scored by John Ferguson in the third minute - after a sublime Belcher break. The 18 year old Brad Clyde found a channel down a very narrow blind side and charged over in the 46th minute. Just four minutes later, Laurie Daley went over, after great work from Belcher and Meninga in the lead up. And then Canberra really opened up the attack. In the 64th minute, Peter Jackson started a stunning move, setting Gary Belcher away, who passed inside to Daley... and Jackson backed up to score. The Raiders scored three tries in the last nine minutes, the last an intercept try to Phil Hurst after just coming onto the field.

"That was better than anything we've done this year... The forwards laid the foundation with a tremendous first half and then the holes started to appear in their defence. We kept hammering away and went right on with it," Tim Sheens said after the match. The Rabbitohs' coach George Piggins was characteristically blunt: "They were just too good for us. The whole 14 of us got our arses kicked. We're not going anywhere in the competition until we can find a side that can beat Canberra."

1988 Round 18 - Canberra Raiders (Gary Belcher 2, Brad Clyde, Laurie Daley, John Ferguson, Phil Hurst, Peter Jackson, Gary Belcher 3 goals, Ricky Stuart field goal) 35 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 2

Canberra Raiders: 1. Gary Belcher 2. Paul Martin 3. Mal Meninga 4. Peter Jackson 5. John Ferguson 6. Laurie Daley 7. Ricky Stuart 8. Dean Lance 9. Grant Ellis 10. Brad Clyde 11. Sam Backo 12. Steve Walters 13. Glenn Lazarus

17. Phil Hurst 19. Craig Bellamy 20. Chris O'Sullivan 26. Gary Coyne

Coach Tim Sheens
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by edwahu » December 11, 2016, 12:19 pm

It's great to see Jackson in full flight in that last try vs the Dogs.

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 12, 2016, 8:01 am

1989 - The greatest ever grand final

1989. There were so many great games in that season. Memorable finals victories over the Sharks, the Panthers and the Rabbitohs. But none can match the final match of 1989, the Canberra Raiders against the Balmain Tigers.

It is still the greatest ever Grand Final, and nothing will ever match the feeling of the first premiership for the Canberra Raiders. The joy amongst the team and in the national capital has not been equalled before or since. The Raiders went on an incredible winning streak meaning they were the first team from fourth or fifth to win the premiership, and the first team from outside Sydney to take the crown.



The Raiders trailed the Tigers 12-2 at half-time, despite being being the better team for much of the first half. It was almost an insurmountable lead in a Grand Final in those times. The Tigers first try was the result of a lucky intercept to James Grant. However their second, just before the break, was amazing. Andy Currier launched a huge bomb from deep in the Tigers own half. The bounce was horrible, and Gary Belcher could do nothing. It fell effortlessly into the hands of James Grant, who offloaded to Currier. Big second rower Paul Sironen was backing up and he charged over the line from 20 metres out.

That try was a heart breaker, but Canberra ground their way back into the match in the second half, Gary Belcher finally getting over the line with 20 minutes remaining. Balmain had their opportunities to win the match. A desperate Mal Meninga ankle tap stopped Michael Neill from scoring. It felled him just metres from the line and with no defence in front of him. Wayne Pearce knocked on just as the Tigers had an overlap, try line beckoning. A penalty goal to Currier gave Balmain a 14-8 lead. And then a Ben Elias a field goal attempt, which would have taken the Tigers' lead to more than a converted try, thudded into the cross bar and bounced away.

But the Raiders would not be denied. With two minutes remaining, Chris O'Sullivan put in a huge cross-field kick. It was grabbed by Laurie Daley, who threw an overhead pass to John Ferguson, who jinked and stepped back inside to go over the line. A conversion from Mal Meninga sent the game into extra time. 14-14 at the end of 80 minutes.

Chris O'Sullivan potted a field goal in the 82nd minute and Canberra seemed to have all the momentum. 15-14.

And then came one of the most iconic moments in Raiders' history. Andy Currier fumbled a kick and Mal Meninga pounced. He passed to "no name" replacement forward Steve Jackson, 25 metres from the line. He somehow pushed off defender after defender, and crashed over. Ian Maurice's classic commentary has now gone down in history: "He's there! Try! Try! Steve Jackson reached out and scored what will win the premiership for the Canberra Raiders! I didn't think there was any way he was going to make that. But he did. What strength! What power! What a Grand Final! What a premiership!"

After the match it was tears from Mal Meninga. "I can't believe it. This is the greatest ever thing that has happened to me in football. Unbelievable... Beats playing for Australia, beats playing for Queensland, this is what it's all about, winning the Grand Final."

1989 Grand Final - Canberra Raiders 19 (Gary Belcher, John Ferguson, Steve Jackson tries, Mal Meninga 3 goals, Chris O'Sullivan field goal) defeated Balmain Tigers 14

Canberra Raiders: 1. Gary Belcher 2. Matthew Wood 3. Mal Meninga 4. Laurie Daley 5. John Ferguson 6. Chris O'Sullivan 7. Ricky Stuart 8. Glenn Lazarus 9. Steve Walters 10. Brent Todd 11. Dean Lance 12. Gary Coyne 13. Brad Clyde

15. Paul Martin 20. Steve Jackson 22. Kevin Walters

Coach Tim Sheens
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by Green_Hammock » December 13, 2016, 10:57 am

I think 2015 was the greatest Grand Final ever. I wasn't around back in 89 so I think it has to do with some Raiders bias and nostalgia.
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 13, 2016, 11:02 am

1990 - Back to back



The Canberra Raiders were looking for back-to-back premierships in 1990, after their fairytale first grand final victory in 1989. Penrith were looking for their first title. The Raiders had a remarkable season, finishing minor premiers... and featuring in all three grades on grand final day. The Raiders won the President's Cup match... and were controversially defeated in reserves in extra time.

It meant that the Grand Final started a half an hour late, and it probably favoured the now more experienced Raiders.

Penrith started the match strongly, but Canberra quickly took control. A break to Gary Belcher and a long cut out pass by Ricky Stuart set up the first try for John Ferguson, and then an incisive run from Ricky Stuart set up a Laurie Daley try under the posts.

"Canberra – they’re too hot, they’re too strong" came the famous call from the commentary box. It was 12-0 and it appeared as if the Raiders could overwhelm Penrith.

However, the Panthers fought back. A try to Brad Fittler just before half time, was followed by another to Paul Smith just after the break, and Penrith trailed by just two.

The match hung in the balance for much of the second half, with Ricky Stuart’s masterful kicking game critical to the Raiders maintaining their hold on the lead.

Then just five minutes from the end, the Raiders scored a spectacular try – Meninga and Daley barnstorming in attack, and Matthew Wood finishing with the four points.

The match belonged to Canberra, despite a last minute try from Greg Alexander through a tap close to the line.

And as the hooter sounded, the Canberra Times posters emerged: "WE DID IT! AGAIN!" It was a different feeling to the ecstasy of 1989. It was almost a sense of relief, of all the expectations being met. It was how it was meant to be.

The backs had shone in the match, but the victory had been just as much about the forwards and the defence.

"There is going to be a lot said about the way we attacked out there today," coach Tim Sheens said after the match. "But I was just as happy with the way we defended. Both last week when we beat Brisbane, and this week, the defence blotted out the opposition's key players."

"It was much tougher than last year," prop Brent Todd reflected. "You only have to look at the blokes in the pack to see the scars, everybody had shed blood. A lot of people may not appreciate our forwards - but our backs do."

It was the last match for club legends, Dean Lance and John Ferguson. It was fitting that the sprightly 36 year old winger, known as "Chicka", scored in the match. Ricky Stuart was Clive Churchill medalist for his towering performance.

Meninga, Belcher, Daley, Lazarus - and Stuart, were named for Australia for the Kangaroo Tour after the match. "It is the fulfilment of a goal. I went out there to play the game of my life today because it was the grand final and we were after the premiership. But being named in the squad is certainly a huge thrill" Stuart said.

The greatness of this Green Machine team – minor premiers and premiers – was now firmly written in the record books.

1990 Grand Final – Canberra Raiders 18 (John Ferguson, Laurie Daley, Matthew Wood tries, Mal Meninga 3 goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 14

Canberra Raiders: 1. Gary Belcher 2. Paul Martin 3. Mal Meninga 4. Laurie Daley 5. John Ferguson 6. Chris O'Sullivan 7. Ricky Stuart 8. Brent Todd 9. Steve Walters 10. Glenn Lazarus 11. Nigel Gaffey 12. Gary Coyne 13. Dean Lance

14. Matthew Wood 15. Phil Carey 16. David Barnhill 17. Craig Bellamy

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 15, 2016, 1:04 pm

1991- Against the odds

The Canberra Raiders were hit by a salary cap storm in 1991 and faced major disruptions caused by injury and representative football. So it was remarkable that Canberra was able to progress to a third Grand Final in a row, even though it was not be be back to back to back premierships.

One of the highlights was a 20-0 defeat of the eventual premiers, the Penrith Panthers at home in Round 11. The Raiders fielded a team of young players, with the ranks severely thinned by representative duties. Graham "Buck" Rogers coached during the week, while Tim Sheens was with the Blues in State of Origin camp. Jason Gregory, Steve Stone, Alex Corvo and Brett Boyd made their first grade debuts. Inexperienced players like Michael Twigg and Jason Croker also featured. These Raiders were truly green. The Panthers too were denied their representative players, but featured an experienced line up and Penrith were expected to account easily for Canberra.

Canberra's cause was helped by the dismissal of the Panthers' hooker Darren Tuite for an elbow, 15 minutes into the match. But the performance of the young players had the Raiders crowd giving standing ovations. Steve Stone made 25 tackles and 18 hit ups, Alex Corvo made 36 punishing tackles and Jason Gregory was heavily involved. The 18 year old Brett Boyd made 41 tackles and was constantly dangerous with dummy half runs. Sheens wanted to take no credit after the match: "Talk to Buck. This belongs to him and the players. He prepared the Canberra team today."

Then in Round 20, the sixth placed Raiders sounded a warning against the third placed Western Suburbs Magpies. It was Canberra's most comprehensive performance of the season, a 36-8 win at home - described by coach Tim Sheens as one of the best he's been involved with. Brad Clyde had the perfect game, awarded a rare 10 rating by Rugby League Week. He often handled three or four times in a set, hitting the line and throwing beautiful, sometimes magical, offloads. And then he backed up and tackled. Meninga, Daley, Walters and Stuart were not far behind. The Magpies were in the match at half time, but buckled under the pressure of the Raiders' attack in the second half.

There were plenty of highlights. A Meninga try scored from one of those magical Brad Clyde passes. A chip and chase from Ricky Stuart for a try. A tackle from Laurie Daley on Graeme Wynn to save a try. A 30 metre run from Darren Fritz to set up a Jason Croker try. For the first time in 1991, Canberra had climbed to the edge of the top five - a share of equal fifth place.

But the crowning achievement of the 1991 season came in the Preliminary Final. The Raiders had to win the last four matches of the regular season to just make the top five. They went onto defeat the Magpies and Sea Eagles in the first two weeks of the finals.

In the Grand Final final decider, the North Sydney Bears went to a 12-0 lead after just 17 minutes. The hapless Bears were hoping for their first Grand Final appearance since 1943. Surely they could not be denied. But they were. Minutes later, Ricky Stuart threw a 30 metre pass to Brad Clyde who tore away for a four pointer. Then the Raiders launched a 75 metre attacking move, which put Paul Martin over the line. And shortly after, when Martin scored the second of his three tries, Canberra had turned a 12-0 deficit to a 16-12 lead, in less than 15 minutes.

Daley, Meninga, Clyde and Stuart had been instrumental. Daley left the field early in the second half with a hamstring injury, but Canberra powered on, scoring three more tries. Ricky Stuart played in spite of an ongoing groin injury and suffering acute tonsillitis 24 hours before the game. The team was becoming a little frayed, due to injury. But this match ended in an emphatic 30-14 victory for Canberra. It meant there would be another meeting with the Penrith Panthers on Grand Final Day.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke, the Raiders No. 1 supporter, was in the stands. "[They're] one of the most talented sporting sides in any football code in Australia. It makes me feel very happy to say I'm their lucky charm, but it's not my lucky charm - it's just a tremendously talented team," he said.

While a third successive premiership was not to be, Canberra was well on its way to becoming the team of the 90's.

1991 Preliminary Final - Canberra Raiders 30 (Paul Martin 3, Mal Meninga, Matthew Wood, Brad Clyde tries, Mal Meninga 2, Matthew Wood goals) defeated North Sydney Bears 14.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Gary Belcher 2. Paul Martin 3. Mal Meninga 4. Mark Bell 5. Matthew Wood 6. Laurie Daley 7. Ricky Stuart 8. Brent Todd 9. Steve Walters 10. Glenn Lazarus 11. David Barnhill 12. Gary Coyne 13. Brad Clyde

14. Darren Fritz 15. Brett Boyd 16. Michael Twigg 17. Scott Gale

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35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 16, 2016, 10:14 am

1992 - Rebuilding

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That dreaded word: "rebuilding". It unfortunately summed up 1992. The Raiders were forced to shed players as a result of the salary cap and financial crisis of 1991, losing the likes of Glenn Lazarus, Brent Todd, Paul Martin, Mark Bell, Nigel Gaffey and David Barnhill. Canberra managed to hold the big six: Meninga, Daley, Stuart, Walters, Belcher and Clyde. But injuries to Daley, Stuart, Belcher and Clyde cruelled the season. The Raiders won only 10 matches for a 12th placed finish.

Nevertheless, Canberra still defeated four of the five finalists: St George, Illawarra, Newcastle and Wests. In Round 7, the Raiders produced one of their best comebacks against the Knights at Bruce Stadium. The Raiders trailed 14-0 after 37 minutes, but in the space of 10 minutes piled on 18 points. Gary Coyne grabbed a try just before half time. And then after the break, Steve Stone scored from a Phil Blake chip, while Gary Coyne capitalised on a break from Sean Hoppe from the kick off. A Brett Mullins try was enough to secure a thrilling win - with the Knights bombing a four pointer three minutes from the end... which would have levelled the scores.

Tim Sheens later said: "I told them [at half time that] the crowd were calling for the reserve grade side to be sent on. They seemed to respond to that." In fact, the crowd was also calling for the Raiderettes to be sent on, something Sheens omitted!



But the best win of the season came against the Illawarra Steelers, who were having a break out season. The Steelers were placed in fourth when they visited Bruce in Round 19 - and had the second best defensive record. Canberra could not make the finals for the first time since 1986, but showed what might have been had the side made it. In the end it was a six try demolition of the men in scarlet. Canberra just tore them apart. The Raiders led 14-2 at half time, and went on with it in the second half. Ricky Stuart was instrumental in the halves, Furner and Clyde carved it up in the forwards. A young Jason Croker impressed on the wing, while fullback Brett Mullins scored a double.

"From a coach's point of view, I think Ricky [Stuart] did everything I asked of him," coach Tim Sheens said after the match. "It is a shame that a team as good as ours isn't going to contest it this year. Bradley Clyde comes back into the side and you see the sort of difference he makes, let alone [the injured] Belcher and Daley and those sorts of players. It's a bit unfortunate, but it's still something to build on and look forward to next year."

And build on it, they did.

Round 19 1992 - Canberra Raiders 38 (Brett Mullins 2, Gary Coyne, Jason Croker, Mal Meninga, Dave Woods tries, David Furner 7 goals) defeated Illawarra Steelers 2.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Brett Mullins 2. Sean Hoppe 3. Mal Meninga 4. David Boyle 5. Jason Croker 6. Scott Gale 7. Ricky Stuart 8. Darren Fritz 9. Steve Walters 10. Paul Osborne 11. David Furner 12. Steve Stone 13. Brad Clyde

14. Gary Coyne 15. Darrell McDonald 16. Dave Woods 17. Craig Bellamy

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 19, 2016, 8:49 am

1993 - Another one that got away

1993 was another one that "got away". After a year in the doldrums, the Raiders were back in 1993. They won the pre-season Tooheys Challenge against the Magpies at Dubbo and were a real challenger for much of the season. In the second half of the season, they soundly defeated both the Grand Finalists, the Dragons and Broncos.

In Round 19, a record 24,801 people crammed Bruce Stadium on a Friday night to see the equal league leaders, the Broncos, face a Raiders team that was just one competition point adrift. Children were allowed on the field to watch the match at either end, such was the crush. It was a tension filled, exciting arm wrestle in the first half, with the teams going to the break 4-4. Laurie Daley scored just before half time, after Ricky Stuart took two quick taps. With Terry Matterson still walking off, headed to the sin bin, Daley just reached out and planted the ball, despite the attention of Michael Hancock and Alan Cann in the in goal.

Early in the second half, Mal Meninga turned the game in Canberra's favour. He intercepted a Kevin Walters pass and ran 70 metres to score. Canberra was dominant, but it took another 26 minutes for the Raiders to crack the Broncos' defence. Jason Croker ran a great line off a Meninga pass out wide and placed it near the posts. The Raiders led 14-4 and then five minutes later, forward Paul Osborne went down the sideline to score in the corner. The 20-4 scoreline was a true reflection of the Raiders' dominance.

Just a week earlier, the Raiders had been booed from the field after a terrible performance against Balmain, a 32-32 draw. Not this week. "After last week... if that's not going to bring the best out in players I don't know what is," coach Tim Sheens said after the match. He had re-signed with the Raiders just that day. "The intensity was certainly there, but if anything, I had tried to keep it low key during the week. We were nervous enough as it was. But that's how I like them - nervous. We did fall off one - Johns scored - but to their credit, they didn't let that faze them."

It was one of the matches of the season, but there was another which showed how well oiled the Green Machine was - and which ultimately saw the season undone. The Raiders were pressing for top spot on the ladder in Round 21- and they would finish the round in first place after a record win over the Parramatta Eels. The 68-0 victory on that Sunday afternoon still stands as the Canberra club's biggest winning margin. No team had won by a bigger margin in 58 years.

At half time the Raiders led Parramatta 30-0. Brad Clyde scored in the 12th minute, after returning from two months on the sideline with a serious knee injury. Brett Mullins scored four minutes later, and then Meninga put on two. It was all downhill from there. The Raiders scored 12 unanswered tries and David Furner kicked 10 goals. It was an amazing display of the Raiders' power, the ruthlessness of the attack.

But, sadly, Ricky Stuart went down with an injury just after half time. He'd dislocated and fractured his ankle. Stuart was having one of his best ever seasons. He was the competition's best player of the year, winning both the Rothmans Medal and the Dally M award in 1993.

Stuart would say later: "I just wish I would have taken the advice of Tim Sheens at half time. He said to me come off and have a rest because we’d had a pretty hectic season. I said 'give me 10 more minutes and I will come off'. I ended up breaking my leg and having a full reconstruction on my ankle. I still take that into account when I’m coaching now and I tell a player to come off the field."

"It was the best year of football I had, I hit a purple patch and couldn’t do anything wrong. It was one of those years where you’d chip kick and the ball would bounce back to you and you would catch it in one hand… we should have won the comp that year."

The Raiders couldn't overcome the loss of Stuart - and lost their remaining three matches. A defeat at the hands of Canterbury saw them overtaken in the final round for the minor premiership. And they were bundled straight out in the finals. The team's attack centred on the organisation of Stuart and there was simply not enough time to cover the gap.

1993 Round 21 – Canberra Raiders 68 (Sean Hoppe 2, Mal Meninga 2, Laurie Daley 2, Jason Croker 2, Trevor Schodel, Noa Nadruku, Brad Clyde, Brett Mullins tries; David Furner 10 goals) defeated Parramatta 0 at Bruce Stadium

Canberra Raiders: 1. Gary Belcher 2. Noa Nadruku 3. Mal Meninga 4. Brett Mullins 5. Sean Hoppe 6. Laurie Daley 7. Ricky Stuart 8. Quentin Pongia 9. Steve Walters 10. John Lomax 11. David Furner 12. Brad Clyde 13. Jason Croker

14. David Westley 15. Trevor Schodel 16. David Boyle

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 20, 2016, 5:02 pm

1994 - Meninga goes out a winner

The Canberra Raiders kicked off and Martin Bella knocked on. The Raiders looked like they would win the 1994 decider from the outset.



The heroes: Paul Osborne and Mal Meninga.

Paul Osborne was a middle of the road player for the Raiders. He was leaving the club, set to play in England, but the suspension of prop John Lomax meant Osborne would earn a late call up for the Grand Final. He played the match of his life. First, he produced a superb pass to David Furner to set up the first try for Canberra. Then he produced a miracle one handed pass around the body of Terry Lamb to Ken Nagas, sending the Canberra winger on his way to a 60 metre try.



Mal Meninga, already a legend, and playing his last game on Australian soil – capped the magnificent Raiders victory with a 30 metre intercept try, 17 minutes from the end of the match. His celebratory gesture after that try has now been captured in bronze, the statue adorning the entry to the Mal Meninga Grandstand at Canberra Stadium.

Meninga reflected later: "Out of all the Grand Finals I played in, 1994 was the most comprehensive. Each member of the team played to their potential that day, and that's why we won so well. Everyone prepared as if the game was going to go down to the wire."

He denied it was a fairy tale finish. "Fairy tales are about winning in the dying seconds. When you win comfortably without any pressure, that's not what fairy tales are supposed to be. But in the end we won the premiership, so I can't complain, can I?. "

"I think I said after the game, when someone asked me, 'Well it was anti-climatic because I was willing to get the ball with 30 seconds to go, run the length of the field and score the winning try'. That's what I was willing to do, so that when the final hooter went the Raiders were in front by a point. That's the way everyone on our team approached it and because of that mentality, we won pretty well."

Meninga and Osborne were two heroes for Canberra that day, but it was a team for the ages right across the park. David Furner was Clive Churchill medalist for player of the match. But the likes of Daley, Stuart, Croker, Walters, Clyde and Mullins were all magnificent.



There were many highlights in season 1994. Canberra averaged 30 points per match during the season, tallying a total of 779 points and 146 tries, more than any team in history. Brett Mullins scored 22 of them, the most by a fullback in a season. He scored 11 tries in the space of three games, the remarkable final four in the Round 18, 52-18 defeat of Newcastle. Jason Croker bagged 22 tries during the season as well. Almost 23,000 saw the Raiders demolish the Sea Eagles 30-6 at home in Round 7. And almost 24,000 jammed Bruce when the Raiders defeated the 1993 premiers, the Broncos, 29-10. Mal Meninga's final home game saw the Raiders defeat the Wests Magpies 40-22, in front of a record 25,253 people - and the western stand named in his honour. The finals campaign was memorable, with two victories over the North Sydney Bears, and an epic one point defeat in extra time against the Bulldogs.

But utimately, it was the day of the 1994 Grand Final that was the best of the season - and one of the best in the history of the Canberra Raiders.

1994 Grand Final – Raiders 36 (Ken Nagas 2, Noa Nadruku, David Furner, Laurie Daley, Jason Croker, Mal Meninga tries, David Furner 4 goals) defeated Bulldogs 12 at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Canberra Raiders: 1. Brett Mullins 2. Ken Nagas 3. Mal Meninga 4. Ruben Wiki 5. Noa Nadruku 6. Laurie Daley 7. Ricky Stuart 8. Quentin Pongia 9. Steve Walters 10. Paul Osborne 11. Jason Croker 12. David Furner 13. Brad Clyde

14. Brett Hetherington 15. David Westley

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by CRR » December 20, 2016, 6:32 pm

the regular season games of 1994 you can not go past the Knights when Mullins scored 4. Best game ever.

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 21, 2016, 4:27 pm

1995 - Dominant, but no prize

1995 saw the Canberra Raiders dominate even more comprehensively than in 1994, but incredibly, there was not a sixth Grand Final appearance. Canberra lost just three matches in the entire year, but one of those losses was critical: a Preliminary Final defeat at the hands of the eventual premiers, the Bulldogs. The Raiders finished the regular season in equal first place with the Sea Eagles on 40 competition points, and only lost the minor premiership to Manly on points differential.

Canberra started the season with a nine game winning streak. The 1995 team's record for most wins in a row in a single season was only topped by a Canberra team this year, after the 2016 outfit won ten in a row. The streak ended with an epic 16-8 loss to the Sea Eagles at Bruce in front of nearly 25,000 people in Round 10. That loss also ended an incredible 25 match winning streak at home for the Raiders.

In Week 1 of the finals, the Raiders were forced to play the Brisbane Broncos at Lang Park - despite the fact that Canberra finished higher than Brisbane on the ladder. It was the first finals match played outside of Sydney, and it was a classic encounter, played before over 40,000 fans, with Canberra running out winners 14-8. Star play makers Ricky Stuart and Alan Langer were pitted against each other, but Langer was forced from the field with injury early in the second half.

The game featured stunning attack and defence, with Canberra leading by just a point, 7-6, at the break. Soon after, Brett Mullins beat Steve Renouf, passed to Daley, who set Brad Clyde on a 50 metre run to the try line. It was 13-6, and then 13-8 after a Broncos penalty goal to Julian O'Neill in the 47th minute. With around 20 minutes remaining, Stuart kicked a second field goal... and then incredible Raiders defence held Brisbane at bay for the remainder of the match.

But the most memorable match of 1995 came earlier in the season... and it was also a victory over the Brisbane Broncos. It was a Friday night in Round 8 at Bruce and almost 24,000 turned up to see the heavy weight clash, one that was worthy of a Grand Final. Both were undefeated in the first seven rounds. It turned into a 26-0 thrashing for the team in green. The Stuart-Langer clash was an expected highlight, and Stuart came out well on top. Clyde and Furner led the forward domination, and Furner ended by scoring two tries.

But Brett Mullins produced the most memorable try, certainly one of the top five tries in Raiders history. It was the 19th minute and Mullins seemed covered by the defence near half way. The classic commentary is hard to forget: "Kick and chase by Mullins. Kick and chase again by Mullins! This will be a miracle! Oh, it is a miracle! Oh my goodness, you won't see anything else like that again this year. And maybe never!"



The Raiders followed with more pain for the Broncos in the 36th, 43rd and 55th minutes. The Broncos were held scoreless for the first time since 1991. Priceless!

1995 Round 8 - Canberra Raiders 26 (David Furner 2, Brett Mullins, Jason Croker, Ken Nagas tries, David Furner 3 goals) defeated Brisbane Broncos 0

Canberra Raiders: 1. Brett Mullins 2. Ken Nagas 3. David Boyle 4. Jason Croker 5. Noa Nadruku 6. Laurie Daley 7. Ricky Stuart 8. Quentin Pongia 9. Steve Walters 10. John Lomax 11. Brett Hetherington 12. David Furner 13. Brad Clyde

14. David Westley 15. Ruben Wiki 16. Luke Davico

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 22, 2016, 4:56 pm

1996 - ARL-Super League war hits home

The ARL-Super League war broke out in 1995, but in 1996 it really started to get nasty and hit home on the field. The season started with the Canberra Raiders forfeiting the Round 1 clash against the South Queensland Crushers at Bruce as a result of the in-fighting. Other clubs aligned to Super League also forfeited, but all the teams returned to the playing field in Round 2 in an uneasy truce.

Round 4 saw the Raiders record one of their biggest ever wins - a margin of 56 points over the North Queensland Cowboys - in a match that stands alongside the 56-0 drubbing of the Brisbane Broncos in 2009. It is eclipsed only by the 68 point win over the Eels in 1993 and the 62 point wins over the Roosters in 1990 and the Panthers in 2008. The Cowboys were in just their second season and struggling. The Raiders still featured some of the game’s biggest names. Though Ricky Stuart and Steve Walters did not play, Canberra still piled on 14 tries at Bruce Stadium in the clash. Ruben Wiki picked up four tries in a dominant display, while Jason Croker and Simon Woolford picked up doubles.

The biggest occasion during the regular season was the clash with the Broncos at the QEII Stadium, with over 37,000 in attendance. It was a much anticipated clash, with the Raiders not having played in Brisbane since 1993... but Canberra was decimated by injury and suspension. There was no Ricky Stuart, no Steve Walters, no Quentin Pongia, no John Lomax. It was a 50-16 debacle for the Raiders.

At home, one of the biggest crowds of the year saw the Raiders defeated the Bears on their first visit to Bruce in five years. It was an eight try, 46-12 hammering, with Noa Nadruku and rookie forward Ben Kennedy scoring doubles - and David Furner scoring 18 points alone. It was a big victory against a team that sat well above the Raiders on the ladder and which would eventually finish third.

The best of the season was the farewell at home to coach Tim Sheens, who had decided to head to North Queensland in 1997. Canberra had spent much of the season outside the top eight, but had gradually climbed the ladder at the back end of the year. There were over 14,500 at Bruce in Round 21 to see the Raiders take on the Auckland Warriors - and the Green Machine scored five tries to defeat the New Zealand outfit by 30-6, guaranteeing a top eight finish. Ken Nagas scored a hat trick.

The Raiders would go on to finish sixth, but suffered a two point loss to the Dragons in Week 1 of the finals and were eliminated. A season damaged by controversy, injury and suspension was at an end. The times they were a-changing. Mal Meninga would take over as coach in 1997. Could he bring back some magic?

1996 Round 21 - Canberra Raiders 30 (Ken Nagas 3, Noa Nadruku, David Westley tries, David Furner 5 goals) defeated Auckland Warriors 6

Canberra Raiders: 1. Ken Nagas 2. Noa Nadruku 3. Brett Mullins 4. David Boyle 5. Steve Collins 6. Laurie Daley 7. Steve Stone 8. Luke Davico 9. Steve Walters 10. John Lomax 11. Brett Hetherington 12. David Furner 13. David Westley

14. Quentin Pongia 15. Bruce Mamando 16. Simon Woolford 17. Roger Kenworthy

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 23, 2016, 12:25 pm

1997 - The year of Super League

1997. The legal battles won, Super League kicked off, with Laurie Daley the player to launch the season at Fox Studios in Sydney. "May the game begin," he said, but the Raiders missed the cue, losing the first four matches of the season. Rookie coach Mal Meninga was under considerable pressure right from the start. He had only retired two years earlier and had little experience in charge. A six point win over the Hunter Mariners in Round 5 relieved some of the pressure.

But Canberra recovered. The Raiders went on a six game winning streak from Round 7, which saw them climb to third on the ladder. The season was interrupted by the World Club Challenge at that point, a tournament involving clubs from the English Super League. Canberra played three games in Australia against Halifax, London and Wigan in June, and smashed them all. Ken Nagas scored six tries in the 70-6 win over Halifax.

But when Canberra travelled to England in July, they lost to London 38-18 in the fourth game. The structure of the competition was such that a single loss meant Canberra was out of WCC contention. Mal Meninga said: "In my association with the club, which goes back twelve years, it's the worst performance we've had. It was embarrassing. It's a hard game, rugby league. Hard men play it. Men of character with good attitudes, and a bit of pride about how they run around on a football field. Tonight, we displayed none of those qualities."

After that spray, Canberra got their minds back on the job. Canberra won 10 of the last 12 matches of the regular season and finished third on the ladder. The Grand Final that was always dreamed about - between the Raiders and Broncos - was not to be, however. Canberra faced the Sharks twice in the finals - at Shark Park - and lost narrowly in both matches. It resulted in a Broncos-Sharks Grand Final - played at the QEII Stadium, Brisbane, the first decider played outside Sydney and in front of a record 58,912 crowd.

The highlight of the season for the Green Machine, however, came in the finals, when Canberra took on the Penrith Panthers in Week 2. It was the first finals match played at Bruce, but only 10,153 attended on a Monday night. The time slot didn't help at all, but it was also a public tired of the ARL-Super League battle.

Penrith had been an unexpected winner against the Bulldogs in Week 1 of the finals. The Raiders shuffled their line up, pushing Ken Nagas to fullback and Brett Mullins to centre. Luke Priddis came in at hooker in place of Simon Woolford. Canberra led 16-6 at half time, despite losing David Furner early in the match. Penrith fought back after half time, posting the first try. But it was an impressive Raiders outfit that stormed home, scoring three tries in the final fifteen minutes, bundling the Panthers out.

During the course of 1997, both the ARL and Super League realised the code could not remain divided. Channel Nine's decision to broadcast Super League matches was the first step in reconciliation. The exit of key figures, like John Quayle, also progressed a return to a single competition. And by December, a peace deal was brokered. The National Rugby League was born.

1997 Minor semi final - Canberra Raiders 32 (Laurie Daley, Albert Fulivai, Ken Nagas, Luke Priddis, Simon Woolford tries, Laurie Daley 6 goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 12

Canberra Raiders: 2. Ken Nagas 5. Noa Nadruku 1. Brett Mullins 3. Jason Croker 18. Albert Fulivai 6. Laurie Daley 7. Ricky Stuart 11. Brett Hetherington 17. Luke Priddis 8. Quentin Pongia 13. Brad Clyde 12. David Furner 20. Jason Burnham

9. Simon Woolford 36. David Atkins 10. Luke Davico 16. David Boyle

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 24, 2016, 2:53 pm

1998 - The Mac Attack

The decision to release club legends Brad Clyde and Ricky Stuart dominated much of 1998 for the Raiders, the first of the National Rugby League. It was a difficult decision, brought on by the need to fully incorporate player salaries inflated during the ARL-Super League War into the salary cap. The choice was to retain the 31 year old Stuart and the 28 year old Clyde... or retain younger talent. It never felt right later, however, seeing Stuart and Clyde in Bulldogs colours.

The season was heavily affected by injury: Brett Mullins and Ken Nagas missed the first half of the season with leg injuries. Laurie Daley played only 10 matches, and his season ended with knee surgery in July. Ricky Stuart contracted a mystery illness, which was later diagnosed as encephalitis. It could have been fatal, but he ended up being on the sidelines for just 10 weeks.

Stuart's final game for the Raiders at Bruce Stadium showed how much he would be missed. He was man of the match in the 17-4 victory over the Sea Eagles in Week 1 of the finals. The Raiders had finished seventh, with 10 of the 20 teams qualifying for the play offs. Stuart played a part in all of the Raiders' three tries - and kicked a field goal. He was tenacious in defence, as well, and gave Manly's play maker Cliff Lyons no room to move.

Despite letting in a Sea Eagles try after three minutes, the Raiders took control through the forwards and led by 10-4 at half time. Canberra's lead was extended to 10 points early in the second half, when Todd Payten scored from a Ricky Stuart bomb. And despite injuries to Brad Clyde and Mark McLinden, the Raiders simply suffocated the Sea Eagles out of the match.

It was as good as it got in the finals, however, with the Melbourne Storm putting the Raiders out of contention at Olympic Park. It was a 24-10 loss, the second to the team in purple in just three weeks.

Despite the significance of the finals victory, the best match of the season was the reason that Canberra faced such a conundrum about whether to retain Stuart and Clyde.

It was another victory over the Sea Eagles - an amazing comeback on Easter Sunday. In Round 5 at Bruce, the Sea Eagles charged to a 20-2 lead after just 25 minutes. Cliff Lyons was devastating. The Raiders were without Ricky Stuart, who was suffering recurring migraines. Daley left the field after 10 minutes with a hamstring strain, and Clyde left the field for a period with concussion. It looked dire for the Green Machine.

But Canberra gradually clawed its way back into the game. A young, head-geared halves pairing of Andrew McFadden and Mark McLinden was instrumental. The Raiders trailed 20-12 at half time. But coach Mal Meninga told his team at the break that the inexperienced duo would lead them to victory.

An exciting second half saw the scores deadlocked at 20-20. With just a minute to go, a kick from Manly forward Nik Kosef deflected off Brad Clyde. An 18 year old McLinden - later named Rookie of the Year - scooped up the ball and produced an electric 50 metre run down the sideline for the winning try on the bell. The “Mac Attack” was born.

Andrew McFadden said later: "It wasn't a two man show by any means, there was a lot of good performers that day, but it was one of the most memorable wins I have ever been involved in."

"The win was even better because we were up against a Manly side that was still one the best in the competition at the time."

"I guess it was exciting for us, we were both young and thrown out there together and it was good times and a good experience. It was a fairly good initiation for the combination."

The 18 point comeback has only been exceeded once, in 2015, when Canberra recovered from 22 points down against the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt. An amazing match.

1998 Round 5 – Canberra Raiders 26 (Jason Croker 2, Luke Davico, Albert Fulivai, Mark McLinden tries, David Furner 3 goals) defeated Manly Sea Eagles 20

Canberra Raiders: 1. Geoff McNamara 2. Jason Croker 3. Brandon Costin 4. Ruben Wiki 5. Lesley Vainikolo 6. Laurie Daley 7. Andrew McFadden 8. Brett Hetherington 9. Simon Woolford 10. Luke Davico 11. Ben Kennedy 12. David Furner 13. Brad Clyde

14. Mark McLinden 15. David Boyle 16. Albert Fulivai 17. Anthony Seibold

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 26, 2016, 11:32 am

1999 - Ups and downs

The 1999 NRL season saw the exclusion of the Adelaide Rams and the Gold Coast Chargers, and the creation of St George Illawarra, with 17 teams competing for the premiership. It was a season of ups and downs for the Raiders. There were huge wins over some of the "have nots" in the competition - the biggest a 64-16 win over the Magpies at Campbelltown in in Round 22. The Magpies conceded 944 points in 1999, their final year as a separate entity. But for Canberra there were more "downs", with the team finishing ninth, failing to qualify for the finals.

The Raiders were the favourite team for the newly created Dragons, as the joint venture scored its first ever win over Canberra at Bruce, 16-14, in Round 3. The Raiders led by 14-0 at the 48th minute and did not score again. The Dragons did not take the lead until a the very last moment, with a try to equal the scores, and the Wayne Bartrim goal after full time to win it. And then in Round 7, Nathan Blacklock and Anthony Mundine were doing somersaults as they tore apart the Raiders at Kogarah, 44-2. Blacklock and Mundine scored five tries in an eight try hiding.

The biggest occasion of 1999 was the Round 1 clash between the Raiders and Broncos - when 20,122 turned up at a redeveloped Bruce Stadium, renovated for the 2000 Olympics. The Broncos were the premiers and were still the Raiders' biggest rival of the time. But the Broncos were a different team to the team of 1998. From their first ten games, the Broncos recorded just one win and a draw. The Raiders ended up posting a 28-20 victory, with centre Brandon Costin posting a double. Another highlight at home was a 26-6 win over the Melbourne Storm - the eventual premiers - in Round 14. Laurie Daley was missing, but David Schrader scored a double in a four tries to one win.



The match that is probably the most memorable, however, was the Raiders last ever against the North Sydney Bears. North Sydney were struggling in their final season. But the match was marked by an incredible effort from Jason Croker, scoring four tries by the end of the game. Time after time the lock sliced through the Bears' right side, ensuring the Raiders ran away with the match, 46-16.

1999 Round 23 - Canberra Raiders 46 (Jason Croker 4, Andrew McFadden 2, Luke Davico, Brett Mullins, Luke Williamson tries, Luke Williamson 4, David Furner 1 goals) defeated North Sydney Bears 16

Canberra Raiders: 1. Brett Mullins 2. Rod Jensen 3. Luke Williamson 4. Mark McLinden 5. Lesley Vainikolo 6. Laurie Daley 7. Andrew McFadden 8. Luke Davico 9. Simon Woolford 10. Mark Corvo 11. Damian Kennedy 12. David Furner 13. Jason Croker

14. Jason Burnham 15. Ruben Wiki 16. Todd Payten 17. Brad Kelly

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 27, 2016, 4:25 pm

2000 - A legend retires

The Raiders defy the Sydney critics. Sounds familiar? That's what happened in the year 2000, with Canberra's chances of making the top eight dismissed by most experts. Instead, Canberra maintained a place in the top eight for the entire season, and by the end of the season were placed in the top four - earning a double chance in the finals. It was mostly due to a wonderful record at home, with Canberra not winning away until Round 18 against the Warriors. But wins over the Bulldogs, Storm and Cowboys away helped the Green Machine secure fourth spot on the ladder.

One of the most fondly remembered matches in Raiders history took place in Round 17 - the only NRL match to be played in a genuine snow storm. There were 7384 people there, but if you count the number of people who later claimed to be there, it was a crowd of 27384! The Raiders allowed anyone sitting in the inner bowl to shift into the grandstand and a free coffee and pie were given to the crowd. When players slid in for a try, they left a channel of green in the white snow. Eventually, the Raiders out pointed the Wests Tigers 24-22.

Brett Mullins said later: "I remember Wests scored the first try. They put a kick through into our in goal and from memory there were about six of us standing around watching it. They dived on it and I think we all thought, 'Good luck to him'. As you ran around ice would build up under your boots, just hunks of ice. Runners were bringing out hot water because our joints were just going numb."

Laurie Daley recalled: "I remember Lesley Vainikolo scoring a try and sliding over and they had to pour the warm water down the front of his pants because that was all cold down there. It was very funny."

Milestones during the season included David Furner becoming the highest point scoring forward of all time, Brett Mullins becoming the first Raiders' player to break 100 tries, and Laurie Daley becoming the most capped Raider in club history.

In Week 1 of the finals, Canberra met the Penrith Panthers at Bruce on a Friday night, in front of over 18,000. The Raiders trailed by 16-6 just before half time, but went on to score 28 points without any reply from the Panthers. Brett Finch was man of the match, and he led the recovery with a try in the 40th minute. The domination in the second half was complete, with tries to Todd Payten, Jason Croker, Andrew McFadden and Jamaal Lolesi. Croker ended with a double in the 34-16 victory.



The match was also marked by two lifting tackles, which would prove fatal to Canberra's finals campaign. Midway through the first half, David Furner and Andrew McFadden were put on report for a tackle on Tony Puletua. Then two minutes later, Jason Croker and Simon Woolford were also put on report for a similar tackle on Puletua. All four contested the ensuing charges, but only Furner was found not guilty. McFadden, Croker and Woolford were suspended. It was too much for the Raiders to overcome in Week 2, losing 38-10 to the Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The finals victory against Penrith was the final match that Laurie Daley, David Furner and Brett Mullins would play at Bruce. But the best match of the season was the one celebrated as their home farewell in Round 23. It was a farewell for all three, but really, the day belonged to Laurie Daley. The captain led his team to a wonderful 40-12 victory over the Roosters - one of the grand finalists of 2000 - on a wet Sunday afternoon in front of nearly 24,000.

Daley said after the match: "I felt invincible out there today and I just felt like I could do nothing wrong. Without no word of a lie, this is one of the best moments I've had in my career. I'd put it right up there. For the people to stay around in the terrible weather, it means a lot and is very touching."

Looking back later, Daley still felt it was one of the most special days of his footballing life.

"I think I was more emotional in that game than any other. I was very passionate and used to get extremely excited and keyed up for big games. People said to try and stay relaxed but I found I played better when I was keyed up. I remember running onto the field with all these little kids lining up in a guard of honour and that brought a tear to the eye and the chest was beating really quick. It was also David Furner's and Brett Mullins' last home game. We wanted to make sure it was a good one."

And so they did.

The Roosters led 8-0 after scoring the first two tries. It looked a bit grim. But Canberra fought back and led by 14-8 at half time. And then Canberra opened up some magical attack in the second half, with four tries giving Canberra a 36-8 lead. The departing Mullins scored a double. A try on full time to Lesley Vainikolo gave Daley an opportunity for a final kick at goal at home - but he missed from the sideline. It didn't matter. It didn't halt the magic. The sun started to shine and a rainbow appeared over Bruce Stadium. It was the perfect goodbye.

2000 Round 23 - Canberra Raiders 40 (Jason Croker 2, Brett Mullins 2, Jamaal Lolesi, Andrew McFadden, Lesley Vainikolo tries, David Furner 6 goals) defeated Sydney Roosters 12

Canberra Raiders: 1. Brett Mullins 2. Jamaal Lolesi 3. Brad Kelly 4. Ken Nagas 5. Lesley Vainikolo 6. Laurie Daley 7. Andrew McFadden 8. Todd Payten 9. Simon Woolford 10. Luke Davico 11. Ruben Wiki 12. David Furner 13. Jason Croker

14. Mark McLinden 15. Alan Tongue 16. Adam Peters 17. Justin Morgan

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35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 28, 2016, 8:53 am

2001 - Life is not meant to be easy

Life post Daley, Furner and Mullins wasn't meant to be easy, and in season 2001, it wasn't. Add in injuries to Jason Croker, Ruben Wiki, Ken Nagas, Luke Davico, Lesley Vainikolo and Mark McLinden and it was very tough indeed. The team placed 11th, in a 14 team competition, the worst season since the "rebuilding" year of 1992.

There were some very sorry days, with the Raiders losing twice to fellow cellar dwellers Northern Eagles, Wests Tigers and the 2001 wooden spooners, the Penrith Panthers.

The misery of the season was encapsulated in two games.

In Round 14, the Raiders were banished to Manuka Oval on a wet Saturday night, thrown off their own home ground by another event. Just 7,112 turned up to the then crumbling venue, members shut out of the only decent grandstand at the venue. The humiliation was complete when an average Warriors outfit defeated the Raiders 22-10.

But there was no worse loss than in Round 8. The Newcastle Knights and the Raiders were set for a certain 20-20 draw, with time virtually expired. B Finch attempted a touch finder from a 20 metre restart, so as to force a scrum with a Canberra feed - and a last ditch scoring opportunity. Instead, the ball went out on the full, delivering a penalty in front to Andrew Johns. Newcastle were handed their first win in Canberra on a platter: a 22-20 loss after the hooter.

Finch had considerable potential, but the young half was inconsistent. He had a rocky relationship with the Raiders fans. In the match against the Northern Eagles at Bruce, Finch was announced as the man of the match, to a chorus of booing from the home crowd. The crowd was unhappy with better performed locals being overlooked in favour of Finch.

At other times, Finch was justifiably man of the match. In Round 6, the Raiders were dominant against the Eels - the minor premiers of 2001 - with Finch helping to orchestrate the 22-6 victory.

The 32-0 win over the Bulldogs at the Sydney Showground in Round 15 was another highlight for Canberra. The Raiders were without seven regular first graders, and Andrew McFadden and Michael Hodgson were forced from the field with serious injuries. Finch, McLinden and Woolford carved up the Dogs and it was all over at half time, with the Raiders leading 20-0.

In Round 25, at Lang Park, the Raiders smashed the Brisbane Broncos 40-18, despite the season being well and truly over for Canberra. Alan Tongue showed the spirit that would typify his career, when he decided to play, despite a death in his family. Finch and McFadden ran the show, with Canberra overcoming an 8-0 early deficit.

However the best of the season was the 32-22 win in Round 17 over the Sydney Roosters - who were then placed in the top three. It was one of the Raiders' most courageous victories of all time.

The Raiders trailed at half time by 10 points, 22-10. There were no players left on the bench for the majority of the second half, the squad struck down by injury. The Raiders had lost Mark McLinden (suspected broken jaw), Ken Nagas (suspected broken leg) and Ruben Wiki (concussion, neck) by half time. At the 45th minute, Sean Rutgerson left the field with a knee injury. Whoever was left had to stay on the field.

Jason Croker did just that. Incredibly, he played the entire second half with a torn cruciate ligament in one knee and an ankle ligament strain in his other leg.

"I just knew I didn't want to let my mates or the club down," he said later. "I got a call from the coaches and they said we had no one left on the bench so I sort of said to myself, 'right, I'm going to have to stick this out' I don't know if it was brave or just stupid."

The 13 Raiders went on to score 22 unanswered points in the second half. Finch scored in the 47th minute, before tries to Odell Manuel and Clinton Schifcofske tries gave the Green Machine the lead. A try to Darren Mapp with four minutes remaining sealed the famous victory.

"I think everyone associated with the club is very proud of the way the players played today. You shook your head in awe at what they did. It was a magnificent effort," outgoing coach Mal Meninga said after the match.

Croker required a knee reconstruction and was awarded the John Sattler Trophy for courage. Incoming coach Matt Elliott was assistant coach that year. "Words fail me to be honest," he said. "It was one of those things that you see that makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck."

2000 Round 17 - Canberra Raiders 32 (Clinton Schifcofske 2, B Finch, Odell Manuel, Darren Mapp, Ken Nagas tries, Clinton Schifcofske 4 goals) defeated Sydney Roosters 22

Canberra Raiders: 1. Clinton Schifcofske 2. Odell Manuel 3. Ken Nagas 14. Brad Kelly 5. Greg Wolfgramm 6. Mark McLinden 7. B Finch 8. Sean Rutgerson 9. Simon Woolford 10. Ryan O'Hara 11. Ruben Wiki 12. Alan Tongue 13. Jason Croker

15. Darren Mapp 16. Terry Martin 17. Darren Porter 18. Michael Monaghan

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by zim » December 28, 2016, 9:23 am

After all this time I finally know who the scumbag filter is for :)

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by -TW- » December 28, 2016, 9:37 am

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35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 29, 2016, 3:57 pm

2002 - Raiders sneak in

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The Canberra Raiders just snuck into the top eight in 2002, in eighth place, after the Canterbury Bulldogs were stripped of 37 competition points - punishment for systematic salary cap cheating. It was a young Raiders outfit - and they won just 10 of 24 matches under new coach Matthew Elliott. Canberra also won only one match away from home - against the Wests Tigers at Stadium Australia. So it was a fortunate finals placing - but not undeserving on a level playing field.

It was also a remarkable effort for the Raiders to recover from a horror start to the season - winning just one of their first six matches. After a 38-0 defeat at the hands of Parramatta in Round 7, the Raiders were in last place on the competition ladder. A few weeks earlier, Canberra had suffered a 52-6 hiding at Newcastle.

Off the field there was disruption as well. News Corporation returned its 50 per cent interest in the Raiders to the Queanbeyan Leagues Club Group - and that led to the return of John McIntyre, and the departure of CEO Kevin Neil and football manager Robert Finch. Finch's son Brett would also depart the club for the Roosters at the end of the season. But on field, the Raiders regrouped and gradually climbed the competition ladder until they secured eighth position by the very final round of the season.

One of the most memorable matches was a draw - against the Dragons in Round 9 at Wollongong. The Raiders led 21-8 at half time, but the Dragons fought back to 21-20 in the second half. With just minutes left on the clock, the Dragons' hooker Mark Riddell was sent off for a high tackle on Mark McLinden. But the Dragons kept attacking, and with just 12 seconds left on the clock, Brent Kite was held up in goal. It looked certain that the Raiders would hold on for a well deserved victory. Referee Paul Simpkins set a scrum... and as the clock showed zero seconds left, he called "time off". The Dragons won the scrum and Willie Peters attempted a field goal - one that was charged down by B Finch. The match should have ended twice, but the referee ruled Finch was offside at the scrum. A differential penalty was awarded to the Dragons - and this time Peters was successful with the field goal. 21-21 at full time.

"We're not disappointed, we're angry," coach Matt Elliott said after the match. "There's a fair bit of fury in that dressing room. There was a lot of energy and effort put in and for the game to end in those sort of circumstances is bitterly disappointing. We're not happy. It's the first time I've ever seen a scrum pack after the bell."

The Raiders defeated four top eight teams in 2002 - the Sharks, Knights, Warriors and Bulldogs. And unfortunately, they could not repeat the win over the Warriors in Week 1 of the finals, bowing out after a 36-20 loss in New Zealand.

The victory over the Bulldogs was the best of the season - and one of the most memorable matches at Canberra Stadium. It took place in Round 24 - and even before the match, it was a day of high drama. On the Friday before the match, after weeks of scandal surrounding the Bulldogs' salary cap cheating, NRL CEO David Gallop announced Canterbury's punishment. They fell from top of the ladder, on 41 competition points, to last. They were fined $500,000. The entire Bulldogs board resigned.

Thousands of Bulldogs fans travelled to Canberra on the Sunday, and gathered at the southern end of the ground. It was a sea of blue and white fans. They were angry with the NRL, they were angry with the club management, but wanted to show support for their team. Bulldogs club legend Steve Mortimer put his hand up to fix the mess and when he visited the Bulldogs fans in the inner bowl, he was mobbed, greeted as a saviour. A number of Raiders fans carried large wooden spoons around the ground.

The Bulldogs seemed shell-shocked in the early stages and the Raiders were on fire. It was soon 18-0, with the Green Machine at top gear, putting on three converted tries. And by half time, Canberra looked well in control, leading 28-10. One team was clearly still in the hunt for the finals. After the break, however, the Bulldogs staged a huge comeback, scoring 24 points. It was helter-skelter football. It was only after the Bulldogs' half Brent Sherwin kicked out on the full from a line drop out in the final minute that the Raiders' victory look safe. Clinton Schifcofske kicked the ensuing penalty goal from in front, wrapping up the epic 38-34 victory. It was a remarkable win for the young Raiders, over an illegally assembled team that had been cruising to a minor premiership.

2002 Round 24 - Canberra Raiders 38 (Ryan O'Hara 2, Darren Mapp, Mark McLinden, Todd Payten, Ruben Wiki tries, Clinton Schifcofske 7 goals) defeated Canterbury Bulldogs 34

Canberra Raiders: 1. Clinton Schifcofske 4. Joel Monaghan 3. Jason Croker 19. Rod Jensen 5. Mark Asbock 6. Mark McLinden 7. B Finch 8. Todd Payten 9. Simon Woolford 10. Ryan O'Hara 11. Ruben Wiki 12. Michael Hodgson 13. Terry Martin

14. Alan Tongue 15. Darren Mapp 16. Sean Rutgerson

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35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 30, 2016, 11:08 am

2003 - Surpise packets

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The Canberra Raiders had their most surprising season since 1987 in 2003. The Green Machine opened the season with a seven game winning streak, and up until Round 22 were in the top two in every week except one. The play was often criticised as "boring" - as it emphasised simple dummy half running from the likes of Brad Drew. But the play did become more expansive as the season progressed. And nothing pleased the fans more than winning football games.

The home crowd attendance leapt to an average of 13,398. More than 19,000 saw the Raiders defeat the Bulldogs 26-22 at home, while more than 18,000 rolled up for the clash with the Broncos in Round 14 - a narrow 24-20 loss. In Round 26, almost 23,000 saw the battle for second place with the Sydney Roosters at Canberra Stadium - when an injury plagued Raiders were just edged out, 23-16.

The horrible away record of 2002 was turned around, the Raiders winning 10 from 13 matches played outside Canberra, and six from 11 at home - the Raiders sacrificing one home game to play the Warriors in Wellington.



Canberra finished on 36 competition points, equal with the Bulldogs, but fourth on points differential. And while they were never outside the top four in 2003, the Raiders bowed out after losing consecutive finals matches.

In Week 1, the Raiders lost at Canberra Stadium to Melbourne, 30-18, the third loss of the season to the Storm. In Week 2, the Raiders and Warriors fought one of the most gripping finals matches in history. The crowd of 30,000 at the Sydney Football Stadium was dominated by Warriors fans, who had been given 10,000 free tickets to the match by sponsor Vodafone - after fears that two 'out of town' teams would draw a poor crowd.

Facing a hostile reception, the Raiders were brilliant in the opening stages. Mark McLinden made a clean break in the first set, streaking downfield before the cover defence caught him. From the ensuing set, the Raiders were awarded a penalty which allowed Clinton Schifcofske a penalty goal to open the scoring. Soon after, an inspired run from captain Simon Woolford led to a try under the posts, and after another penalty goal the Raiders were flying at 10-0. The Warriors, beaten grand finalists from the previous season, demonstrated their ability to step up a gear and produced two quick tries to even the match up at half time, the weight of possession strongly in New Zealand's favour.

Early in the second half, the Warriors scored again to take the lead for the first time, and many thought they would run away with the game. However the Raiders would not lie down. In a ferocious forwards battle, Ryan O'Hara and Luke Davico were devastating, as was Ruben Wiki who was playing out wider. Numerous big hits dominated the second half and the Raiders managed to pressure the Warriors into mistakes. A no-nonsense barge over try from Luke Davico had the game tied up at 16 all, and it stayed that way for 20 tense minutes.

The final stages will live in Raiders infamy for many a year. With only minutes on the clock, the Raiders in their best field position for most of the half and a field goal beckoning, Mark McLinden decided to grubber instead for Jason Bulgarelli. The ball sat up beautifully for the centre, who just needed to just hold the ball and fall over for a try. But he could not keep it in his grasp and dropped it forward. The Warriors subsequently worked the ball up field, giving Stacey Jones field position to drop the winning one pointer, just three minutes from the end. A frenetic final few seconds did not allow the Raiders to try and square the match, leaving the players and the thousands of Green Machine fans in the stands heartbroken.

But there was plenty to be proud of too. The Canberra Raiders Premier League team swept all before them, winning the Grand Final against St Marys-Penrith 31-6. The Wayne Collins coached side lost only three matches all season. They scored a massive 901 points, with Matt Gafa scoring 348 of them: 26 tries and 122 goals.

And there were some massive wins. The Raiders scored 40 or more points five times. In Round 22, Canberra put on 51 points against the Sea Eagles, despite Simon Woolford being sent off for a high tackle on Luke Williamson after just eight minutes. Joel Monaghan scored four tries. One of the most exciting victories was much tighter, however. It came in Round 18 against the St George Illawarra Dragons after a mid season losing streak of three games.

Clinton Schifcofske, unknown to the coach, decided upon some unusual preparation for the match. He headed to a Canberra television station and spent several hours in the editing suite, putting together a five minute inspirational video, cutting together highlights of the season to date and the famous speech from Al Pacino in On Any Given Sunday.



"The players didn't know about it until I turned up to training," Schifcofske said later. The coach in the movie speaks about the hurdles in the game... One of the things in the speech is that they were not playing as a team, but as individuals - something that might also be applied to us, and also that a game of footy is about inches."

There were certainly hurdles to overcome. In the lead-up, Simon Woolford, Luke Davico, Ian Hindmarsh and Jamahl Lolesi were all ruled out late with injury. Brad Drew, suffering a hamstring injury, came into the team at hooker - the first time he'd played at dummy half in four years. But there was no other choice. He had to play. With 12 minutes remaining, the match was level, 18-18. And Drew stepped up, kicking a field goal.

"I was surprised the Dragons didn't put more pressure on me as I was going for the kick," Drew said after the match. "I knew as soon as it left the boot that it was going over".

Just minutes later, the Dragons had their chance to take the match. John Wilshere could have passed to an unmarked Nathan Blacklock, but chose instead to take on Clinton Schifcofske. The reliable defender took him out over the sideline. A one point win thanks to Drew and Schifcofske.

"We were pretty desperate," Drew said. "We needed the win and that was probably one of the most exciting games I've been involved in. The desperation and courage that all of the players showed was inspiring."

The best win of the season was against the ultimate premier team - the Penrith Panthers - in Round 4. At that stage, it was the Raiders biggest comeback away from home. Three minutes before half time, Canberra trailed by 16 points, until Phil Graham intercepted a Craig Gower pass. He ran 60 metres to score, narrowing the gap to 10 points at half time, with Canberra trailing 22-12. But a Gower try soon after half time again extended the Panthers' lead to 16 points.

Canberra then went on a try scoring rampage. Phil Graham scored from a chip and chase, and that was followed by tries to McLinden, Wiki, Martin and Lolesi. Despite the loss of Simon Woolford after just 10 minutes, the Raiders won 40-28. It was the first time Canberra had won at Penrith since 1997.

"That's one of the greatest comebacks I've been involved with," Luke Davico said after the match. "And it just goes to show that if you put in the hard work and believe in yourself, anything can happen."

2003 Round 4 - Canberra Raiders 40 (Phil Graham 2, Jamahl Lolesi, Terry Martin, Mark McLinden, Clinton Schifcofske, Ruben Wiki tries, Clinton Schifcofske 6 goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 28

Canberra Raiders: 1. Clinton Schifcofske 2. Joel Monaghan 3. Phil Graham 4. Adam Mogg 5. Jamahl Lolesi 6. Jason Croker 7. Brad Drew 8. Ryan O'Hara 9. Simon Woolford 10. Luke Davico 11. Ruben Wiki 12. Ian Hindmarsh 13. Terry Martin

16. Tyran Smith 17. Alan Tongue 19. Michael Hodgson 20. Mark McLinden

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » December 31, 2016, 3:11 pm

2004 - What goes up

The Raiders looked like they were on an upward trajectory after 2003, but 2004 was a relative disappointment. Canberra made the finals, but only just. They secured eighth place in the final round with a huge 66-22 victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Canberra Stadium - after falling to 12th on the ladder following the Round 24 loss to the Roosters.

The Rabbitohs clash was the final home game for the legendary Ruben Wiki - who was tempted away from the club after 12 years by the Warriors. It was revealed later that the Warriors offer was inflated by salary cap cheating - but it was all too late by that stage. It was an emotional night, with Luke Davico and Joel Monaghan also having decided to leave the club. The Raiders were determined to win, to make the finals, to give Wiki the home send off he deserved.

And they did more than what they had to do. Canberra led 22-12 at half time and went on to post 40 points in the second half. Marshall Chalk scored four tries in only his second appearance. Clinton Schifcofske scored 20 points himself.

However, Wiki suffered severe ankle ligament damage in the first half, and was forced out of the match. After the game, he was on crutches but did a lap of honour. Tears streamed down his face, as he embraced the true believers in the crowd of just over 10,000. It looked like he had made his last appearance in the famous green jersey. But ankle ligament damage was not enough to stop a player who bled green.

He took the field in Week 1 of the finals against the Roosters at the Sydney Football Stadium in jersey No. 22, his ankle supported by a plastic cast. He played for 74 minutes, made 25 tackles and 10 hit ups. It was Wiki at his best. But it was not enough. The Raiders lost 38-12 to the minor premiers.

"I don't think any other player would have played, but Ruben felt he owed it to the guys," Simon Wooford said later.

"It was an emotional day," Clinton Schifcofske said. "I'm a pretty emotional bloke and cry fairly easily, but there were a few bigger blokes than me crying that day."

"I just so much wanted to be part of it," Wiki himself said. "I'm just glad I got to put the jersey on one more time."

There were some good wins in 2004. The win over the Sea Eagles in Round 12, when the Raiders posted 48 points. The 21-14 win over the Brisbane Broncos at the redeveloped Lang Park.

The match of the year came in Round 20 against the Warriors at Canberra Stadium. The Raiders came back after trailing 28-18 at around the 60 minute mark, to level the scores at 28 all.

In the 78th minute, Stacey Jones potted the field goal to give the Warriors a one point advantage - one that mirrored the one pointer that won the Warriors the match in the 2003 finals.

But with just one minute left, Clinton Schifcofske returned serve and produced a 29-29 deadlock at the end of regular time. In just the second minute of extra time, Schifcofske was again the hero, when he scored the winning field goal. Canberra 30 had defeated the Warriors 29, avenging the finals loss of 2003.

"I didn't drop the ball that well and I hit it fat. I thought it might drop short, but it got over. It was very exciting, one of the most exciting moments in my career," Schifcofske said after the match.

2004 Round 20 - Canberra Raiders 30 (Matt Gafa 3, Nathan Smith 2 tries, Matt Gafa 4 goals, Clinton Schifcofske 2 field goals) defeated Warriors 29

Canberra Raiders: 1. Clinton Schifcofske 2. Nathan Smith 3. Adam Mogg 4. Joel Monaghan 5. Michael Robertson 6. Matt Gafa 7. Mark McLinden 8. Ryan O'Hara 9. Simon Woolford 10. Luke Davico 11. Ruben Wiki 12. Ian Hindmarsh 13. Jason Croker

14. Troy Thompson 17. Brad Drew 20. Tyran Smith 22. Michael Weyman

Coach Matthew Elliott
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » January 1, 2017, 3:15 pm

2005 - Spoon narrowly avoided

Everyone was tipping the Raiders to finish with the wooden spoon - and in the end, they were not far wrong. The Raiders surprised everyone early in the season winning their first four matches - and at the end of Round 6 were placed first on the competition ladder. But injury wore the Raiders down, and the season ended with a seven game losing streak. Incredibly, the Raiders went into the second last game of the regular season with the aim of both making the top eight - and avoiding the wooden spoon. They just avoided the spoon, finishing two competition points above the Knights, and six away from the eighth placed Sea Eagles.

Raiders coach Matt Elliott recruited former NRL players Jason Smith and Matt Adamson from the English Super League - and they were widely seen as the worst signings of the year. Smith, in particular, turned into one of the best signings. He looked slow, but his ball playing was perfectly timed. He was even named in a Queensland training squad, but turned down the opportunity of an Origin appearance in favour of playing for the Raiders.

The Raiders suffered long term injuries to Ryan O'Hara, Michael Weyman, Terry Martin, Tyran Smith, Michael Hodgson, Andrew Lomu, Craig Frawley and Nathan Smith. Clinton Schifcofske, Jason Smith and Matt Adamson also missed part of the season, and Simon Woolford was suspended twice, and missed half the season. However, they fought to the end.

In Round 24, the Raiders were desperate against the North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville - and struggled to even find 17 players to field in the match. They scored as many tries as the Cowboys - five - but just went down 31-28. Jason Smith played with a broken hand and a third of the team required pain killers just to take the field.



Smith recounted how he addressed his team mates after the game. "I just said: 'I am personally proud of every single one of you and it's a pleasure to play in this team'," he explained. "There's another bloke with a broken hand, another bloke with a broken finger, there's players in here getting jabbed up with injections before the game. There's probably five or six blokes doing that."

The Raiders triumphed over the Cowboys in the closest victory of the year in Round 16. Jason Smith returned from a knee injury to lead the Raiders to a 23-22 win at Canberra Stadium. He scored a try, set up another and kicked the winning field goal with six minutes remaining. Canberra trailed 12-0 before leading 22-12 at half time. The Cowboys came back in the second half, with a Johnathan Thurston try producing a 22-22 scoreline with nine minutes remaining. After the Smith field goal, Thurston had two shots at sending the game to extra time, but both failed. "It's unbelievable the effect he had on the team," Simon Woolford said of Smith.

Round 3 saw one of the Raiders' most courageous wins - at Homebush against the South Sydney Rabbitohs. In the first half the Raiders lost Matt Adamson (knee), Lincoln Withers (concussion), Michael Weyman (concussion) and Ryan O'Hara (head, foot). There were no bench players left from late in the first half. But the Raiders finished the stronger. They trailed 18-14, but Jason Smith set up a Michael Hodgson try in the 60th minute. And then a converted try and a Clinton Schifcofske field goal secured a 25-18 victory.

But the best match of the season was in Round 9 at Penrith against the Panthers. It is still one of the biggest comebacks in the Raiders' history.

The Panthers scored four tries in the opening 20 minutes and led by 18-0. The Panthers were missing regular kicker Preston Campbell, and Rhys Wesser stood in for him. He missed a penalty goal and three conversions before Trent Waterhouse converted the fourth try.

However, the Raiders then put on 26 unanswered points. Jason Smith started the revival, setting up a try for Alan Tongue in the 32nd minute. Phil Graham, Michael Robertson, Marshall Chalk and David Howell also scored in the remarkable recovery. Jason Smith helped set up three of the Raiders five tries. A victory that encapsulated the determination of the Green Machine.

2005 Round 9 - Canberra Raiders 25 (Alan Tongue, Phil Graham, Michael Robertson, Marshall Chalk, David Howell tries, Matt Gafa 3 goals) defeated Penrith Panthers 18

Canberra Raiders: 1. Marshall Chalk 2. Matt Gafa 3. Phil Graham 4. Adam Mogg 5. David Howell 6. Jason Smith 7. Lincoln Withers 8. Ben Cross 9. Simon Woolford 10. Troy Thompson 11. Matt Adamson 16. Ian Hindmarsh 13. Jason Croker

12. Kris Kahler 14. Alan Tongue 17. Tyran Smith 18. Michael Robertson

Coach Matt Elliott
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » January 3, 2017, 1:58 pm

2006 - Back in the finals

Canberra started the 2006 season in the worst imaginable fashion. They were wooden spoon favourites, and had six players on the injured list before a ball was kicked. Despite that, they upset the Manly Sea Eagles at Brookvale 27-14. But in the next two rounds, the Raiders conceded 126 points, 70 to the Knights and 56 to the Roosters. At least Canberra scored 52 points...

There was also considerable turmoil associated with Matt Elliott's decision to leave the club for the Penrith Panthers... and captain Clinton Schifcofske took advantage of an escape clause in his contract, triggered by the coach's departure. By season's end, Schifcofske was joined by Simon Woolford, Jason Croker, Adam Mogg, Jason Smith and Michael Hodgson on the departure list.

Despite the poor start and the turmoil, the Raiders recovered well, finishing in seventh. One of the most notable wins came in Round 22, when Canberra defeated a Brisbane Broncos outfit featuring 11 Origin players and eight Test representatives, 30-18. The Raiders led 14-6 at half time, courtesy of two intercept tries. Todd Carney scored early in the second half, stretching the lead to 20-6 and it appeared all over. Tries to Phil Graham and David Howell gave Canberra a 30-6 advantage, before the Broncos scored two consolations towards the end of the match. The victory pushed the Raiders into the top eight, for just the third time that season... and they stayed there.

Unfortunately, the Raiders were again an easy target in the finals, bundled out in Week 1 by the Bulldogs, after a 30-12 loss at the Olympic Stadium.

There were better days, however. Remarkably, the Raiders won four matches in 2006 in golden point.

Two of them were against the Wests Tigers, in the space of just a month. In Round 19 at Canberra Stadium, the Raiders and Tigers were tied at 18-18 for the final 14 minutes of the match, both teams twice missing field goals. In the fourth minute of extra time, Todd Payten was penalised for a strip on Adam Mogg. The Wests Tigers insisted it was not a two man tackle... but Clinton Schifcofske kicked the penalty goal from 34 metres out to secure the dramatic 20-18 win.

In Round 23 at Campbelltown, the Tigers were celebrating the final home game for the retiring John Skandalis. A try to Adam Mogg and a conversion from Schifcofske in the 76th minute put Canberra in front by 18-16. But then a penalty to the Tigers allowed Scott Prince to equalise and force the game to extra time. Prince was twice in a position to kick a winning field goal, but Todd Carney rushed out of the defensive line to charge them both down. And then in the final minute of the first period of golden point, Carney kicked the winning field goal from 38 metres out. The Fox commentary famously claimed the Raiders had "stolen" the match and that they did not deserve to win. The home crowd claimed Carney was off side, but replays showed that was not the case.

Carney also kicked a golden point field goal in Townsville in the 87th minute against the Cowboys. It had been a horrible, grinding match, and the kick, from 40 metres out was a horrible looking kick... but it still gave Canberra the 15-14 win.

The best of them, and the best win of the season, was in Round 4 against the Penrith Panthers. The Raiders had just conceded 126 points in the previous two matches. Canberra led 14-8 at half time, but surrendered the advantage, with second half tries to Frank Pritchard and Rhys Wesser giving the Panthers a 20-14 lead. At the death, David Howell scored a try, and Clinton Schifcofske kicked a magnificent conversion from the sideline to send the match into golden point. Preston Campbell had failed with a field goal attempt in regular time, and Craig Gower also failed with several attempts. But Schifcofske was again the hero, kicking a one pointer in the 87th minute.

It would later prove bitter-sweet for the fans.

"I'm happy for the boys and I'm really happy for Matty [Elliott] too," Schifcofske said after the match. Elliott had already announced in February that he was leaving for the Panthers - and the fans were none too happy with the manner of his departure and what was said when it was announced. "He's not only a great coach, he's a great bloke as well. He gives nothing but 100 per cent to all of us and the day he leaves this club is going to be a really sad day." It was a portent of Schifcofske's own decision to depart.

2006 Round 4 - Canberra Raiders (Adam Mogg 2, David Howell, Tom Learoyd Lahrs tries, Clinton Schifcofske 2 goals, 1 field goal) 21 defeated Penrith Panthers 20

Canbera Raiders: 1. Clinton Schifcofske 2. Adrian Purtell 3. Adam Mogg 4. David Howell 5. Craig Frawley 6. Jason Smith 7. Lincoln Withers 8. Andrew Lomu 9. Simon Woolford 10. Michael Hodgson 11. Tom Learoyd Lahrs 12. Jason Croker 13. Alan Tongue

14. William Zillman 15. Ben Jones 16. Troy Thompson 18. Trevor Thurling

Coach Matt Elliott
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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by -TW- » January 3, 2017, 6:48 pm

Remember that game quite well, Schifcofske couldn't hit a barn and then pots one from the sideline to send it to GP

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Re: 35 Years - 35 Great Games

Post by greeneyed » January 4, 2017, 10:51 am

2007 - More rebuilding

2007. More rebuilding under a new coach, Neil Henry. The pre-season gave a taste of what was to come for the spoon favourites, when the Raiders played a trial match in Queensland. They were defeated by the a team made up of the Redcliffe Dolphins, plus some fringe Brisbane Broncos players, 18-12. It was the first time a lower tier team had beaten an NRL team since 1983. The departure of Clinton Schifcofske and company was going to be hard to overcome. The season ended with the Raiders placed 14th, just two competition points away from wooden spooners the Penrith Panthers - but just four competition points away from the eighth placed Brisbane Broncos.

Injury didn't help, particularly in the second half of the season. Phil Graham (knee), David Howell (groin), Troy Thompson (wrist) and Adrian Purtell (deep vein thrombosis) all spent time on the sideline. Todd Carney was also suspended by the club for six matches at a critical point, after repeated off field indiscretions, involving serious driving offences. He was spared the sack and jail time. "We knew it would be detrimental to our performance on the field, but it wasn't detrimental to our club ethos. The benefits outweigh the negatives in that situation," coach Henry said at the time.

There were just nine wins, and only three against top eight teams - the Rabbitohs, Warriors and the Eels. Canberra won only two games on the road. There were, nevertheless, some big wins.



In Round 3, the Raiders thrashed the Newcastle Knights at Canberra Stadium, in Andrew Johns' final ever match. Early in the second half, the score was 18-18, but Canberra went on a try scoring spree to win 48-18. William Zillman scored a hat trick, while Michael Dobson ended with a haul of 16 points from eight goals. Todd Carney was the man of the match. It was coach Henry's first win in the NRL. "It feels good, I'm very happy for the boys. We have a young team and they'll gain from that performance," Henry said after the impressive outing.

In Round 18, the Raiders broke a four game losing streak, and avenged the Round 12 loss to debutant club, the Gold Coast Titans - in style. In the previous week, Canberra had lost 58-16 to the Dragons. But at Canberra Stadium, the Raiders piled on 10 tries to defeat the Titans 56-10. It is still the Titans' worst defeat. Canberra put on three tries before the break, to lead 24-10 at half time, and then scored six second half tries. The hero was captain Alan Tongue, who spent two straight nights icing his injured knee, so he could play. "I don't think there's any magic formula," Neil Henry said later. "You get beat; you work hard for the next week. To the boys' credit, they did a bit of soul searching during the week, and they came out today and put it together."

The best win of the season was against the Eels in Round 13. Canberra started the match on fire, and scored four tries in the opening 12 minutes. Glen Turner scored after three minutes, and that was followed by Terry Campese just four minutes later. Turner then scored his second, and that was followed up by Scott Logan. The Green Machine led 24-0. It was game over. Lincoln Withers and Terry Campese led the way in the seven try, 38-10 win over the fourth placed Eels.

The Raiders ended the season having beaten Matt Elliott's Penrith Panthers twice. Presumably, the Raiders just had the cattle to do it!

2007 Round 13 - Canberra Raiders 38 (Glen Turner 2, Terry Campese, Brad Cross, Scott Logan, David Milne, William Zillman tries, Michael Dobson 5 goals) defeated Parramatta Eels 10

Canberra Raiders: 1. William Zillman 2. David Milne 19. Colin Best 4. Brad Cross 5. Bronx Goodwin 6. Terry Campese 7. Michael Dobson 8. Dane Tilse 9. Lincoln Withers 10. Scott Logan 11. Ben Jones 12. Glen Turner 13. Alan Tongue

14. Josh Miller 15. Troy Thompson 17. Michael Weyman 18. Nigel Plum

Coach Neil Henry
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