Rugby league: Raiders win close contest

The South Pacific Raiders edged out the East Coast Eagles 32-28, with a converted try in the last minute of the game at the Kensington Oval on Saturday.

The game was an arm-wrestle for momentum throughout, despite the Eagles again having no men on the substitution bench.

Both sides started well, with the Raiders running the ball hard at the Eagles line.

To their credit, the Eagles suppressed several attacking sets and defended their tryline for extended periods.

The Eagles backline constantly looked threatening, particularly when Tama Apineru had the ball. His elusive running allowed the Eagles to get over the gainline on countless occasions and he also scored a try.

Jackson Harliwich was equally impressive on the wing, securing two tries of his own and adding two conversions for his side from his six attempts.

Despite the Eagles' best efforts, at halftime the Raiders held a slight advantage at 14-12.

The second half was much the same, both sides causing problems on attack and scrambling on defence to keep the opposition at bay.

Manassah Kutia and Sam Brame again provided the Raiders with the brute strength and determination needed to give their side some go-forward.

The duo were immense on defence and Kutia collected two tries for his side.

The Eagles looked set to close out a tight contest until in the last minute of the game, when Raiders player Christian Schaaf crossed the line to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Jordan Ruatoe converted the try, ending with two successful attempts at goal out of seven.

In the second game, the Kia Toa Tigers put the University League Club to the sword, 32-6.

The front-runners of the competition came out of the sheds firing and did not waste any time putting points on the board, crossing the line in the first 10 minutes.

The Tigers consistently battered the University defensive line.

However, the Varsity side showed some steel and kept the Tigers at bay with some good line defence.

Josh Cornish led the way by rushing up and putting some solid shots on the Tigers runners.

The Tigers crossed the line two more times in the first half, heading into halftime with a 16-0 lead, thanks to tries from Joel Taniora, Shane Unahi, and Vila Apula.

Both sides came out for the second half a little worse for wear with injuries, but particularly concerning for University was losing Junior Meafua with a suspected broken collar bone.

The Tigers still had momentum, though, and Unahi and Koben Katipa tucked the ball under their arms and ploughed into, and often through, the University defenders.

University struck back with a try through captain Tyson Ball, and Josh Cornish slotted the sideline conversion.

Ryan Tapsell, Katipa, and Unahi scored more tries for the Tigers to secure the victory.

Apula was again a key factor to the Tigers' attack, with his running game and passing skills coming to the fore.

- Ricki Allan 

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