Horsburgh the hero as Canberra resist Sharks fightback to get on board for 2023

Canberra overcame their growing injury crisis to earn a vital early-season NRL victory, hanging on to win 24-20 against Cronulla in a nail-biter at GIO Stadium.

Missing star prop Josh Papali’i, Xavier Savage and wingers Nick Cotric and Jordan Rapana, the Raiders lost hooker Danny Levi to a suspected jaw fracture just minutes into Sunday’s game. but that didn’t stop them from securing the thrilling victory.

They led 24-10 on 56 minutes but had to hang on for life at the end, after back-to-back tries from Cronulla the home side threatened to pinch points before the Canberra defense dug in to freeze the result.

It was the victory the Raiders desperately needed, having failed to lose their first two games of the year on their two-game tour of Queensland.

Their hero was Corey Horsburgh, the bench prop scoring two tries and doubling his career total of 63 games in the process with a devastating pair of runs that Cronulla was unlikely to stop.

In notable scenes, Horsburgh was hit by Sharks enforcer Royce Hunt in the backfield, but got up and scored with the next play, as the Raiders stampeded their authority on the contest.

Hunt was sentenced for the punch but Cronulla scored despite being a man through Jesse Ramien as they went one score closer when Britain’s second rower Nikora crossed with seven minutes to play.

Without their Dally M-winning half-back Nicho Hynes (calf), they benefited from a sharp attacking display from dynamic winger Ronaldo Mulitalo, who created the game’s opening try with a play of magic legs before scoring one thanks to Will Kennedy’s delicate kick.

The Raiders fought back with a fine cut pass from Jack Wighton allowing Albert Hopoate to score in the corner, and led when Horsburgh crashed in from close range.

Raider center Matt Timoko gave them some breathing room early in the second with a hectic try, broken tackles and a push over the line for 18-10.

Bench hooker Tom Starling played nearly 80 minutes after Levi’s early injury and put up a quality display, securing two assists and leading Canberra into the park with class.

Raiders star Joe Tapine had a record 158m, while Siosifa Talakai led Cronulla with 150m.

The loss leaves Cronulla 1-2 although they won’t panic, especially with Hynes set to return as soon as next Sunday’s clash with New Zealand.

Replacing Hynes, half-back Braydon Trindall continued to show his class with two assists.


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