Talented Sea Eagles five-eighth Lachlan Croker celebrated a successful return to the NRL with two tries today in Manly's 24-20 win over Canberra Raiders at Lottoland.
Croker replaced Kane Elgey at six in his first game in the Telstra Premiership for 2019 since suffering a season-ending knee injury a year ago yesterday against Newcastle. Croker had been playing well for the Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in the Canterbury Cup before his call up today.
In a match played in perfect conditions in front of a crowd of 10, 706, the Sea Eagles started the game strongly but it was the Raiders who opened the scoring in the ninth minute when five-eighth Jack Wighton got on the outside of second-rower Curtis Sironen to score out wide. Centre Jarrod Croker converted for a 6-0 lead after 10 minutes.
Wighton scored his second try two minutes later when he backed up Jarrod Croker to score near the posts. Jarrod Croker converted for a 12-0 lead after 13 minutes.
Manly winger Jorge Taufua was taken into touch in the 17th minute by the Canberra Raiders after half-back Daly Cherry-Evans produced a great 40/20 kick to earn the Sea Eagles a scrum feed inside Canberra’s quarter.
The Sea Eagles got on the board in the 24th minute when second-rower Corey Waddell put prop Martin Taupau (below) over for his first try of the season. Cherry-Evans converted to leave Manly trailing 12-6.
The Raiders went to a 14-6 lead when Jarrod Croker converted a penalty goal from 38 metres out in the 30th minute.
Lachlan Croker celebrated his return to the team when he finished off a nice break down the left flank by centre Brad Parker to score. Cherry-Evans converted to leave Manly trailing 14-12 at half-time.
The Sea Eagles then lost Cherry-Evans to a lower leg injury in the 48th minute after he felt the pressure and weight of Elliot Whitehead in a tackle.
Lachlan Croker then celebrated his second try (below) when he finished off some fine support play by Manase Fainu and Jake Trbojevic to score next to the posts. Reuben Garrick converted for an 18-14 lead after 54 minutes.
A minute later, Garrick backed up some nice work by Jack Gosiewski to score in the right corner for a 22-14 lead. Garrick failed to convert his own try.
The Sea Eagles then dug deep in defence to hold off some strong attacking raids from the Raiders before Garrick landed a penalty goal in the 77th minute for a 24-14 lead.
The Raiders scored a late converted try to full-back Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad for the 24-20 scoreline.
The win was Manly's fourth of the season from seven matches. The Sea Eagles play Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at Lottoland on Saturday, May 4, at 5.30pm.