A first-half try double to centre Jack Wighton has helped snap Canberra’s miserable three-match losing streak with an emphatic 42-12 NRL win over North Queensland.
In perfect Sunday afternoon conditions at Canberra Stadium, the Cowboys lacked go-forward and looked rudderless with Johnathan Thurston and company away on Origin duties to end a run of three straight victories.
Young Raiders playmaker Mitch Cornish was given his long-awaited NRL debut with 15 minutes to go, showing great promise with a willingness to run the ball and setting up Anthony Milford for the Raiders’ seventh and final try.
The Raiders found success attacking down the right-hand side through a superb Josh McCrone and Wighton, constantly peppering the channel of Cowboys playmaker Robert Lui.
However the home side missed out on several golden opportunities in the opening stanza due to sloppy handling errors, and the Cowboys made them pay with an opening converted try to backrower Ethan Lowe.
Wighton levelled the scoreboard for the Raiders in the 24th minute before young Raiders forward Paul Vaughan carried two defenders over the tryline for a 12-6 lead.
Tariq Sims was placed on report for a dangerous tackle in the shadows of halftime and man-of-the-match Jarrod Croker slotted the ensuing penalty.
With the Raiders completing their sets more consistently, the Cowboys began tiring, and Wighton crossed for his second try as the halftime siren sounded to give the Raiders an 18-6 lead.
The Cowboys hit back through winger Curtis Rona – yet the comeback would be short-lived.
Raiders skipper Terry Campese made a statement against his critics, cracking open some lazy Cowboys defence to put Jarrad Kennedy over.
McCrone and Wighton then teamed up again against Lui and the Cowboys’ left-hand defence to put winger Reece Robinson over.
Not done, the Raiders sunk the boot in with late tries to Croker and Milford.
The win will be a huge boost for the Raiders, who have leaked 134 points in their last three games against Manly, the Warriors and Penrith.