By Jake Bull
The Illawarra Steelers Junior Representative teams had a tough night against the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Thursday.
In awful conditions, which included a delay due to lightning, the Harold Matthews (U16) and SG Ball (U18) both struggled with the poor weather.
The Harold Matthews teams were the first onto the field and despite the condtions, it was the home side that took the lead.
In the 13th minute, fullback Steven Marsters made a break then stood up the fullback to score under the posts.
Zac Lomax added the extras for an early 6-0 lead.
The lead was relatively short-lived when in the 22nd minute when centre Jonathan Fangaiuiha scored in the corner to reduce the gap to 6-4.
Canberra had quite a few sets on the Steelers line but couldn’t break through as the home side went into the break at 6-4.
Six minutes after the break, the visitors hit the lead. Some ad-lib football ends with winger Joe Searle scoring in the corner to lead 8-6.
With 11 minutes remaining, the weather had deteriorated enough for the referees to take the players off the field due to lightning concerns.
After returning ten minutes later neither team could breach the defence as the visitors came away with an 8-6 victory.
With the rain still teeming down, the SG Ball sides made their way onto the field.
It did not take long for the first points when in the first minute Jesse Martin burrowed over.
Bailey Hartwig converted as the Raiders took the early 6-0 lead.
In the eighth minute the Raiders extended their lead when second rower William Samuel went over for a 10-0 lead.
A loose ball found its way into the Steelers hand in the 25th minute and winger Bailey Wright finished off a sweeping movement to score in the corner.
A sideline conversion from Jai Field reduced the gap to 10-6.
With half-time looming, Canberra made sure their lead was secure when Nick Cotric scored as the visitors took a 14-6 lead into the interval.
The Raiders extended their lead to 20-6 early in the second half before Kye Madden crashed over for the Steelers to close the cap to 20-12.
With 20 minutes remaining, Raiders centre Cotric got his second try of the game to give the travelling team what seemed like a comfortable lead.
However, two minutes later the Steelers captain, Reuben Garrick, led by example and found his way to the try line.
Jai Field couldn’t add the extras as Illawarra trailed 24-16.
The home side was on a roll and in the 56th minute halfback Field stepped defenders to score.
He converted his own try to bring the game within two points at 24-22.
With nine minutes to go the Steelers completed their comeback. Bailey Wright got his second try but Field couldn’t convert as the home side lead 26-24.
But this would be short-lived as back-to-back tries to Canberra meant the away side would get the two points with a 34-26 win.
Illawarra Steelers 6. Tries: Marsters. Goals: Lomax (1/1).
Canberra Raiders 8.
Illawarra Steelers 26. Tries: White (2), Garrick, Madden, Field. Goals: Field (3/5).
Canberra Raiders 34.