While the first half was relatively an even tussle, the Raiders maintained the upper hand throughout, tearing away in the second half to score a vital victory, erasing memories of just twelve months prior when the Knights managed a 70-point spree against them.
The game started well for the Raiders, turnover of possession a number of times giving the home side scoring opportunities. Two minutes in however, halfback Michael Dobson missed a penalty shot and minutes later the Knights took advantage of the shaky start to put winger Adam MacDougall in out wide.
The Knights held their lead through the responding try, Marshall Chalk capitalising on a huge overlap down the right corridor to put his side on the board. From there the tide was turning and tries to Lincoln Withers and William Zillman put the Raiders 10 points clear of the visitors in the minutes before halftime. The Knights then hit back before the break with a try to replacement back Milton Thaiday brought them within just four points at the halftime break.
The second half started much the same - a backward and forward tussle. The Raiders managed an early penalty to increase the buffer to six before a good try for Knights reserve Cory Patterson saw the scores leveled again.
It wasn't to be for the Knights after that point, with 30 unanswered points being put on the Novocastrians. The onslaught began with Zillman's second of three tries, and continued minutes later when Scott Logan crashed over for a try of his own.
Errors became more frequent and apparent as the Knights appeared to draw a similar fate that the Roosters managed against Manly the previous day, and the Raiders ran riot. Colin Best managed a try out wide, and with Dobson's radar now firing, the Canberra side had doubled Newcastle's score. The next try to take the Raiders over the 40-point barrier was courtesy of a clever grubber for Dobson, setting Phil Graham up out wide.
The Raiders held the fort for the remaining 10 minutes before a final minute kick ahead from Dobson out of a scrum saw Zillman lead the chase and claim a hat-trick, capping a dour night for Knights fans and beginning serious celebrations in the nation's capital. Zillman along with Carney, Dobson and forward Neville Costigan were definite standouts for the Raiders, while Gidley gave his all in a side that just couldn't keep up at the end of the day.
Next week will see the Raiders head to Parramatta, while Newcastle have their work cut out for them as they host Melbourne at home.
Canberra Raiders 48 Tries: Marshall Chalk, Lincoln Withers, William Zillman (3), Scott Logan, Colin Best, Phillip Graham Goals: Michael Dobson (8/10) Newcastle Knights 18 Tries: Adam Macdougall, Milton Thaiday, Cory Paterson Goals: Andrew Johns (3/3)
Kickoff: 07:00 PM Monday Half time: Raiders 16-12 Venue: Canberra Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins
LeagueUnlimited Live Commentary:
Welcome tonight to a clear Canberra Stadium - plenty of fans in the ground despite the slamming of the concept in the Nation's Capital.
A few lineup changes for both sides - Canberra will go in missing 11. Glen Turner. Costigan will start and Campese takes the vacant spot on the bench in jersey #18. Newcastle have demoted Riley Brown and Daniel Tolar, bringing Terrence Seuseu into the starting side, while rookie Cory Patterson will start in place of Daniel Abraham, who is back to the bench. Veteran and former Raider Luke Davico joins Milton Thaiday as the remaining interchange players.
1 min: We're underway and the Raiders have made a great start with the ball.
2 min: Obstruction penalty against the Knights in their own half, the Raiders now with a penalty shot to come.
2 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL Canberra Raiders Penalty shot unsuccessful from Michael Dobson for Canberra. They will get possession from a 20m drop-out. 0 all
5 min: Knights fullback Kurt Gidley kicks a 40/20 but the ensuing set on the Raiders tryline results in a knock-on and subsequent turnover of possession back to the home side Canberra. Still no score in the National Capital.
14 min: TRY Canberra Raiders The Raiders make a brilliant break down field... they're brought down 20 metres short but some brilliant cross-field passing exposes a woeful overlap on the other side of the park and Chalk finds his way to the line. Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson unsuccessful. Newcastle Knights 6-4
18 min: An exciting play for Canberra but no points, speculation of a knock on, right on their own line, but the referee allows play on and Knights fans breathe a sigh of relief.
21 min: TRY Canberra Raiders The Raiders are playing all over the Newcastle Knights at the moment, a kick through on tackle four giving Withers the try under the sticks. Canberra now lead as the Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 10-6
29 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Canberra Raiders try to Zillman. Checking for offside. Decision pending... TRY!
30 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Try awarded to William Zillman - ruled onside although the play around the ball suggests other players weren't. The Raiders now ahead by ten with the Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 16-6
35 min: TRY Newcastle Knights A penalty ten metres out provides the impetus for a rushed defensive line to be sliced right through, Thaiday doing just that to close the gap for the visitors. Conversion attempt by Andrew Johns successful. Canberra Raiders 16-12
39 min: Just a minute before the break and Newcastle looking dangerous in the Raiders red zone until a floater flies into touch. The Knights play has improved markedly in the final ten of this half.
40 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Canberra Raiders try.... Decision pending on the Grounding. NO TRY, and the players head to the sheds.
HALFTIME: Canberra Raiders 16 Newcastle Knights 12 A tale of two quarters tonight so far in Canberra, with both teams showing dominance during different periods in the first half. The Knights proved stronger in the opening and closing ten minutes, despite an almost-try to the Raiders on the siren, while the middle 20 minutes was all Canberra - three tries between the 14th and 30th minutes catapulting them to a 10-point lead over the much fancied nights before Thaiday's try reeled them in. Will the Knights step up and cruise past the wooden spoon favourites, or are the Raiders set to claim an upset? Stay tuned, the second half is just 10 minutes away.
41 min: The second half is underway and the Newcastle side are with the first possession.
45 min: VIDEO REFEREE - possible Knights try... decision pending...TRY!
46 min: TRY Newcastle Knights Patterson for Newcastle is given a try benefit of the doubt as the video ref is unable to decide the offside. Score now level after the Conversion attempt by Andrew Johns successful. 18 all
50 min: A Knights attacking movement sees Tighe surrender possession, and then suddenly collar Raiders forward Alan Tongue who was on the scene to collect the spoils. A penalty gets the Raiders up the park.
53 min: TRY Canberra Raiders William Zillman bags a double all too easily as the kick return from a forced drop-out goes badly wrong for the Knights defence. The Raiders storm back to the lead. Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 24-18
56 min: INJURY UPDATE Luke Davico (Knights) is out for the remainder of the game with rib cartilage damage.
59 min: VIDEO REFEREE - Possible Canberra Raiders try.... Decision pending... and it's a TRY!
60 min: TRY Canberra Raiders The Raiders are stunning even their own fans tonight, an argy-bargy try awarded to Scott Logan by the Video Referee Steve Nash sees them take a 12-point lead. Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 30-18
63 min: More basic errors from the Knights and they're appearing not to be a shade of the side we've seen in recent weeks. The Raiders are all over them like a rash at the moment and deservingly lead.
65 min: TRY Canberra Raiders If the game was in doubt it certainly isn't now as Canberra are edging open the floodgates. Best goes in out and wide and the Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 36-18
76 min: Another great 40/20 (only just) for the Raiders and they have another shot at the Knights line after several failed sets by the visitors up the other end.
79 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Sensational try from a scrum for Canberra and the rout is complete... and it's Zillman with the hat-trick! A sensational win for the Raiders tonight. Conversion attempt by Michael Dobson successful. Canberra Raiders 48-18
FULLTIME: Canberra Raiders 48 Newcastle Knights 18 An amazing win from underdogs Canberra at Canberra Stadium tonight, thoroughly outclassing a Newcastle side that had Andrew Johns. They looked the goods in the first half, but absolutely tore Newcastle apart in the second half, starting in the 53rd minute with Zillman's second of three tries for the night. A great win to get Canberra on the board for the year, while the only board Newcastle will be going back to will be the drawing one. The Knights do welcome Buderus back for their Easter weekend match against the Storm on Saturday, while the Raiders won't lie down easily when they head to Parramatta for a Saturday night game against the Eels.