Canberra Raiders manage win over Newcastle Knights


Sam Williams was superb with the way he steered the team around the park and he slotted a field goal in the dying minutes to wrap up the win.

It was exactly what they needed against a fellow top-eight aspirant.

Williams almost scored a try, then scored one before his crucial kick. His kicking game was also on point and he earned the praise of Stuart.

His field goal came as the Knights pressured in the final 15 minutes after a Shaun Kenny-Dowall try set up a nervous finish.

“Mental toughness is probably what you got out of the whole group out there at the backend of that game tonight,” Stuart said.

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“Tough game. We got criticised a lot last year because we weren’t mentally tough. They are tough.”

The Raiders have uncovered a cult hero in John Bateman, who looks set to also become a bonafide NRL star with another massive night – this time in the second row to highlight his versatility.

He finished with 201 metres and 36 tackles, and showed some footwork that Knights five-eighth Kalyn Ponga is normally known for.

The Raiders took a 12-4 lead into the sheds, with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad’s first try in lime green and Williams’ show-and-go putting the home side in front.

One defensive lapse saw Jesse Ramien score a 40-metre effort that came out of nowhere.

Raiders fullback Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was excellent at the back and he finished with a double – his fourth in 10 NRL games.

Newcastle recruit David Klemmer was his usual metre-eating self (141m), but his impact was diminished in the second half.

Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton had a mixed night, with a few errors and a couple of kicks out on the full, but Stuart was impressed with the way his No.6 carried on.

He also produced a charge down that led to Nicoll-Klokstad’s second.

“It was always going to be and still is a huge exercise,” Stuart said of Wighton’s switch into the halves.

“What I was happy with Jack tonight, he made some crucial errors tonight. He would’ve lost his way 6-12 months ago. He’s really grown up … his maturity [means] he can leave that mistake and move on.”

Sia Soliola again provided impact off the bench.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

Knights coach Nathan Brown might have to move on from his Ponga-five-eighth experiment.

He switched the young gun to fullback halfway through the second half – although his first kick return was an error that led to Nicoll-Klokstad scoring.

Brown said he wasn’t stubborn and would talk to Ponga before decided where he’ll play next week.

“I was always going to give it five weeks … our offence is not going as smooth as we’d like,” he said.

“We’ve got to have a look at why aren’t we getting the best out of what we’re working with.

“I wouldn’t sit here now and say we’re definitely going to do one or the other. I’ll certainly have a conversation with Kalyn.”

The Raiders head to Townsville next week to play the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday, while the Knights host St George Illawarra on Sunday.

AT A GLANCE

CANBERRA RAIDERS 17 (Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad 2, Sam Williams tries; Jarrod Croker 2 goals; Williams field goal) bt NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 10 (Jesse Ramien, Shaun Kenny-Dowall tries, Kalyn Ponga goal) at Canberra Stadium. Referees: Jon Stone, Tim Roby. Crowd: 10,585.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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