By Patrick Staveley
The Canberra Raiders have pulled themselves back into the top eight with a 28-4 victory over Parramatta Eels on Sunday - their first win since Round Five.
The Raiders were boosted by the late addition of NRL regular Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad at fullback, after failing to get any minutes in first grade on Saturday night. The star No.1 certainly made his presence known, having a hand in most of Canberra’s attacking raids.
He threw a lovely cut-out ball to Albert Hopoate for the opening try, before passing to Jarrod Croker who sent Hopoate over for a double shortly after.
After dominating possession for the first 15 minutes, the Eels were left to rue their missed chances.
Croker later pounced on a deft Matt Frawley grubber to extend the Raiders' lead to 18-0 in the 26th minute, which remained until halftime.
The match stayed fairly even throughout the second half before a Samuel Loizou four-pointer kept the Eels in the hunt.
The comeback wasn’t to be, however, when Nicoll-Klokstad sent a floating pass to James Schiller for a try. Trey Mooney crossed for the last of the day with Croker's fourth conversion rounding out the 28-4 win.
With more than 500 games of NRL experience in the Canberra line-up, the visitors had the edge with their cool heads in scoring opportunities.
The Eels lacked the power needed to get past the Canberra defence. Zac Cini was one of the only Eels players causing any real trouble throughout the afternoon.
While the match was evenly poised for the opening 15 minutes, once the Raiders were in good field position they took their opportunity. At that point it was a line-break from front-rower Ata Mariota which set the platform for the Canberra backline, who immediately took advantage by outnumbering the Parramatta defence on the right edge for Hopoate to score first points.
Canberra move into seventh position with their victory as Parramatta sit just one win ahead in fourth.
The Eels now face the top-of-the-table Panthers on Friday night in Round Nine, while the Raiders head into their first bye for the season