The NSWRL is shining the spotlight on the 2019 Jersey Flegg Cup, selecting a weekly shortlist of the top five tries from every team in the top eight. Our team in focus this week are grand final runners-up the Canberra Raiders. Check here every weekday for rolling coverage of the top five countdown.
The Raiders may have finished the season with a 2-point loss to South Sydney in the grand final, but their strong finals campaign was thanks to a purple patch of late season form, securing 4th spot on the ladder with four wins in the last five rounds.
Canberra scored 103 tries (equal-second best) across the 24 rounds in 2019, and some of them were the season’s most entertaining as the green machine proved their ability to score from all over the park.
Raiders number five try
Taking out 5th position in the Raiders’ top tries was a hopeful effort on the halftime siren from midfield when the Raiders faced Manly Warringah in the penultimate round of the regular season.
It began with a pinpoint chip kick from captain Tobias Westcott which bounced perfectly into the chest of fullback Harley Smith-Shields, and after keeping the ball alive in chaotic scenes, the try was finished off by centre Gideon Afemui – scoring his second in as little as five minutes.
Raiders number four try
There were shades of Greg Inglis to Mark Gasnier when second-rower Darby Medlyn produced an unbelievable assist for No.2 Brigham Moeakiola against the Bulldogs in Round 12.
Halfback Westcott put in a grubber behind the defensive line that looked to be too heavy from ten metres out, but Medlyn never gave up on possession when the ball floated past the in-goal area as he leapt to the air and batted it back with his right hand to Moeakiola for the put-down.
Raiders number three try
When the Wests Tigers thought they ran the Raiders to a dead end in Round 18, Canberra centre Matthew Timoko had other ideas.
Timoko found himself stuck between two tacklers at the 20 with seemingly no room left on the sideline, yet he somehow split the defence while keeping his arm free, keeping just enough space to hand the ball off to edge partner Manase Kaho. From that point Kaho’s speed was too much to handle as the winger skipped through the remaining Tigers defenders to score his second four-pointer of the match.
Raiders number two try
Centre Matt Timoko made No.2 in the Raiders’ top five all on his own when he took a carry from the Raiders’ end at Leichhardt Oval against the North Sydney Bears.
What started as a yardage run from Canberra’s defensive 20-metre zone suddenly became a genuine opportunity as Timoko showed slick footwork to shrug off his opposing centre before turning the fullback completely inside out and racing for the try line.
Raiders number one try
The best try of 2019 for the Canberra Raiders features an electric run by top-30 development player and upcoming NRL prospect Harley Smith-Shields from Round 23’s clash with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles.
Late in the second half the Raiders’ custodian made a kick return on the fly from the 10-metre line and started to put the foot down after a huge left-hand fend on the first defender, but he wasn’t done there. With pure pace Smith-Shields made his way around the Manly Warringah defence, finding stride in open space, then fending off another would-be tackler and offloading for winger Manase Kaho to score.