NRL: Raiders put away Cowboys

Jack Wighton of the Raiders celebrates with team mates after scoring his second try against the Cowboys. Photo / Getty
Jack Wighton of the Raiders celebrates with team mates after scoring his second try against the Cowboys. Photo / Getty

Canberra have moved to within one point of the NRL top four after putting away a depleted North Queensland outfit 26-12 on Monday night.

In front of a crowd of just 8,328 at GIO Stadium, Raiders fullback Jack Wighton starred with tries, as well as a second-half bellringer on a runaway Jake Granville.

Halfback Aidan Sezer also kicked with aplomb, forwards Junior Paulo, Shannon Boyd and Elliot Whitehead all cracked the 100-metre mark in attack, while they also completed at an impressive 89 per cent.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart praised his team for backing up their last-start win over the struggling Newcastle by taking their opportunities against a weakened Cowboys line-up.

"These two games have been the biggest worry for me over the last 6-8 weeks because I know how hard it is to mentally prepare when you keep getting told you're going to win," he said post-game.

"The professionalism they've shown in the way they've prepared to play has got us the two wins ... they were hard games. People who say that to you have never played NRL."

Minus five State of Origin stars, as well as injured five-eighth Michael Morgan, the Cowboys were led by strong efforts from Lachlan Coote, Coen Hess and Ben Hannant.

They too completed at a high 89 per cent rate, but it wasn't enough to deny the Raiders from stretching their winning streak to three and move to within one point of the third-placed Cowboys.

Down 14-6 at halftime, Cowboys rookie Josh Chudleigh reduced the gap on an individual 30-metre dash from dummy-half to score the first try of his NRL career.

However the Raiders held firm, Wighton completing his double when he stretched over in the 52nd minute before Sezer sealed the victory five minutes from fulltime.

Earlier, Wighton made easy work of a flat-footed Cowboys defence to open the scoring in just the third minute before Hess responded with a soaring take of a Coote kick six minutes later.

But a Sezer kick into the uprights bounced perfectly for Josh Hodgson, allowing the home side to take a critical eight-point lead into the break.

Cowboys coach Paul Green refused to blame the absence of his Origin quintet for the loss.

"A couple of their tries were basic missed tackles. That's got nothing to do with whether we had State of Origin players there or not," he said.

"We just should've made a couple of those tackles. That's what cost us in the end.

"It was a real good effort. We created some really good opportunities and there was a lot to like about the performance. But when it come to the crunch, a couple of simple errors defensively (cost us)."

Hannant failed to finish the match after picking up a shoulder injury in the second half.

- AAP

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