Cotric injured as Raiders edge Sharks

Nick Cotric injured his left foot in Canberra's 22-20 win over Cronulla in the NRL on Friday night.

SHAUN JOHNSON of the Kiwis in action during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup match between the New Zealand Kiwis and Tonga at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand.
SHAUN JOHNSON of the Kiwis in action during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup match between the New Zealand Kiwis and Tonga at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

Canberra star Nick Cotric could be in doubt for State of Origin II after injuring his left foot in the Raiders' thrilling 22-20 victory over Cronulla.

Cotric limped off the field in 68th minute on Thursday after being caught in an awkward tackle by Sharks forward Wade Graham.

The NSW winger is hoping to retain his spot for game two in Perth next week, with teams named this Sunday.

His injury put a dampener on a gritty win at GIO Stadium, where they held off a fierce comeback from the Sharks to extend their winning streak to three.

With the temperatures dropping to six degrees in the nation's capital, the Raiders started red-hot by storming to a 20-0 lead with three tries by the 24th minute.

But the Sharks responded with four straight of their own to level the game, with only the wayward goalkicking of the returning Shaun Johnson the difference.

However Raiders captain Jarrod Croker stepped up to nail a 35-metre penalty goal for the lead, before producing a late intercept to seal a tense victory.

It was a record-breaking night for the veteran centre, whose first-half try equalled Raiders great Jason Croker as the club's all-time leading tryscorer (120 tries).

It came on the same night the Canberra captain also equalled Laurie Daley as the club's second-most capped player with 244 games.

Jason Croker has played the most games with 318.

Croker's personal 14-point haul also moved the Raiders' all-time leading pointscorer to the top of this year's pointscoring table with 124.

"The poor bugger doesn't get, I don't believe, the accolades he deserves," Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.

"He won that game tonight on his goalkicking, to be quite honest.

"He kicked some great goals there tonight, one very good goal from the sideline. If he doesn't kick those, we don't win."

The signs were ominous for Cronulla the moment fullback Matt Moylan dropped a regulation kick in the second minute.

It was one of a combined ten first-half errors and penalties that allowed Aidan Sezer, Bailey Simonsson and Croker to score in a 20-minute blitz.

Andrew Fifita was also put on report for a crusher tackle on Ryan Sutton.

But just as the Raiders looked poised for an easy night, Josh Dugan and Josh Morris crossed in the space of 10 minutes to reduce the halftime deficit to 20-8.

The comeback continued in the second half, with Braden Hamlin-Uele strolling through the guts and then Dugan levelling the scores soon after.

Sharks coach John Morris said the slow starts have been a trend this year.

"I was happy we found a way to fight back but really disappointed with our start. We haven't been starting well all year, actually," he said.

"We've won most of our games from behind. Certainly coming down here to Canberra of all places, you want to get off to a good start against a quality team."


AAP