Sport Rugby League Magnificent Austin leads Raiders to victory
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Magnificent Austin leads Raiders to victory

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Blake Austin scored a treble and Josh Papalii added two tries of his own as Canberra beat Newcastle 36-22 to post their first victory in a month.

Canberra’s last win had been in Round 13 – also against Newcastle – who have now lost six matches in a row.

With Laurie Daley’s halves pairing of Trent Hodkinson and Mitchell Pearce proving unsuccessful in the New South Wales’ State of Origin title defence, Austin provided a timely reminder of his skill at five-eighth at a chilly GIO Stadium.

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He took just 90 seconds to get his first try, following a brave decision to run on the last tackle of the second set of the game.

Austin was outstanding for the winners. Photo: Getty
Austin was outstanding for the winners. Photo: Getty

He made it a double barely six minutes later, grabbing a Paul Vaughan offload and turning Knights fullback Kurt Gidley inside out with a superb left-foot step.

And Austin brought up his hat-trick in the 15th minute after winning the race to a clever kick in-goal.

Jarrod Croker scored Canberra’s fourth try and then converted in the 23rd minute to overtake Mal Meninga as the Raiders’ third-highest try-scorer of all time.

Newcastle hit back with a try of their own on the half-hour mark but it was Canberra who led 24-4 at the break.

With Tyrone Roberts and playmaker Jarrod Mullen together for the first time since Anzac Day, the Knights had hoped their first-choice halves pairing would spark their attack in Canberra.

But Mullen – back after 10 weeks on the sidelines with a foot injury – appeared a shadow of himself, hobbling at times.

Dane Gagai also struggled, having made his Origin debut barely 48 hours earlier in Queensland’s series-winning victory in Brisbane.

But his Maroons teammate Papalii showed no signs of fatigue, adding to his maiden Origin try with a double, both scored in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Akuila Uate answered with a pair of tries and Kane Snowden crossed for a four-pointer of his own, but it was too little too late for the Knights.

The night, however, ended on a sour note for the Raiders, with in-form halfback Sam Williams taken off late in the second half with a suspected pectoral injury.

– AAP

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