POWERHOUSE centre Joey Leilua pushed his claims for a maiden Kangaroos jersey with a matchwinning performance for Canberra against the Warriors on Saturday night.
With Australia to play the Kiwis early next month, Leilua took his try tally to six in seven games this season and was a handful every time he was given room to move.
The Warriors matched it with the Raiders in most areas of a tight affair — but couldn’t handle Leilua’s raw strength.
The win gave the Raiders three victories on the trot — and Ricky Stuart’s men now appear out of the early-season slump that led to them losing three of their opening four fixtures.
Warriors forward Ryan Hoffman — born in Canberra when his dad Jay played for the Raiders 33 years ago — scored the opening try after five minutes in controversial circumstances.
The tall backrower flew high to take a Kieran Foran bomb but the ball then appeared to touch Raiders fullback Jack Wighton, which would have made it a knock-on.
But the bunker ruled there was insufficient evidence to overrule referee Adam Gee, who had signalled a try — and the Warriors were off to a shock 6-0 lead.
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The Raiders levelled accounts midway through the half when Leilua found space out wide. The in-form centre was too big, fast and strong as he charged through the defence for his team’s opening try.
Jarrod Croker landed the difficult conversion before Shaun Johnson edged the Warriors in front again with a penalty goal.
The Warriors went to the break holding that 8-6 lead but were desperately unlucky not to score two more tries shortly before halftime.
Firstly Roger Tuivasa-Sheck charged over the line and was certain to score before being held up in a superb tackle by Croker.
Then winger Ken Maumalo flew high to take a bomb and put centre Solomone Kata over, but the bunker correctly ruled no try after the ball hit a Raiders player as Maumalo juggled it.
Croker locked up the scores again at 8-8 shortly after the resumption with a penalty goal.
Leilua broke the deadlock with his second try on the stroke of an hour when Wighton sent him charging for the corner, simply powering through ineffective tackles by Kata and Maumalo.
That try appeared to break the Warriors’ spirits and hooker Josh Hodgson gave his Raiders an 18-8 advantage when he scored a simple try from dummyhalf soon afterwards.
Halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran were both very quiet for the Warriors after they entered the game following back-to-back wins.
Originally published as Leilua shows Kangaroos credentials
SOURCE: newsnow sport