Sharks close to sealing deal to keep Carney

Cronulla are confident of ending speculation about Todd Carney’s future by finalising a deal with the NSW No.6 by the end of the week.
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Carney, who will on Monday get the scan results of a leg injury sustained in Saturday night’s loss to the Dragons, has told Cronulla he wants to remain at the club that took him in after he was dumped by the Sydney Roosters.

Several clubs, including St George Illawarra, are keen to lure the international playmaker to their club for next season.

Interim Sharks chief executive Bruno Cullen will this week sit down with Carney’s manager David Riolo to finalise a deal with the 26-year-old. ”We’ll move on that this week,” coach Shane Flanagan said. ”Todd doesn’t want to go anywhere, so we’ll just get it done.”

When Carney left the field against the Dragons, there were fears he might have re-injured the Achilles tendon he ruptured in last year’s semi-final loss to Canberra. He has been cleared of that but Flanagan still has some concerns. ”We’ll find out about lunch time on Monday just how bad it is,” Flanagan said.

”We had scans [on Sunday] but we have to wait until the next morning. We’re just guessing at this stage, because we have no idea. They are saying a mid-foot strain at the moment but that can be a number of things. There could be a break there, there could be anything.”

Meanwhile, Sharks skipper Paul Gallen has admitted the players are still waiting for phone calls from ASADA for interviews about the drug scandal that has rocked the club. He said each player now had legal representation, allowing them to take their minds off the investigation and focus on the task confronting the Sharks, which in the short term is a showdown with Parramatta on Saturday night.

”Basically, nothing’s changed from the players’ point of view for the past three or four weeks,” Gallen said on Triple M. ”We’ve all been told we’re going to be interviewed. There’s been rumour and innuendo since round one. But there’s been no player at our club who has been interviewed yet.”

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Cheika expects teams to follow the Force’s attack blueprint

Michael Cheika is predicting more tight, direct assaults from opposition teams after the Western Force expertly disrupted the Waratahs’ attacking mojo on Sunday.
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Force coach Michael Foley, back in Sydney for the first time since quitting the Waratahs last year, had his team play straight and hard at the Waratahs’ defensive line, slowing down their ball and weakening their impact out wide by sucking in defenders.

The Waratahs ultimately survived the onslaught, notching their second win in a row with the 23-19 result, but Cheika said more teams would look to ape the Force’s strategy to tire and neutralise NSW in attack. ”That is something we’re going to start to encounter because we are putting it out there that we’re going to run and from a lot of situations teams will start to take that approach more and more,” he said.

”We couldn’t get the flow that we needed to dominate the ball, especially from kick-offs. We seemed to lose all type of dominance of the ball after we’d score or they’d score, and then we had to go for long periods without it. They’d try and frustrate us out of it.”

The Waratahs fly to Wellington on Friday for their first away game in three weeks. While the Hurricanes are not afraid to play expansively, Cheika wants the Waratahs to concede less ground in defence.

”You’ve got to get lower than the opposition and say ‘you’re not going any further, stop there’,” he said. ”A lot of times we got low and then they sort of wriggled past us and took another metre, so that brings another guy in and you’ve got to wriggle another metre and go back, and in the end you get shortened up out wide.

”They did it very well so that’s an area you’ve got to get a handle on.”

The Waratahs are building nicely into the season after three confidence-shaking early losses, but Cheika warned there are ”miles” to go on the path to becoming title contenders.

”There’s no finished product coming any time soon,” he said.

”That’s not to say we’re not happy with the way we’re playing … the guys who we want to get the ball are getting the ball and they’re making yards [but] we need to deliver a more consistent platform and be more comfortable to stay on the ball for longer periods of time.”

Foley, meanwhile, was denied a face-saving win over the side he coached, but ultimately left in a storm of controversy at the end of last season.

Refusing to be drawn on how it felt to be back in his old home state, he would only say the Waratahs were ”playing well” and Sydney ”felt like Sydney”.

On field, he was left lamenting his side’s inability to make up a four-point deficit in the final 20 minutes of the game.

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Ablett raises bar to outshine father

Gary Ablett’s latest heroics left some of the best players in the competition breathless and even prompted his coach to say he was better than his old man – and this week he will be Sydney’s problem.
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The dual Brownlow Medallist turned in one of the best performances of his career in Gold Coast’s shock victory over St Kilda and threatens to rain on the Swans’ parade on Saturday as they unfurl last year’s premiership flag.

Finding a way to stop the Suns superstar will be at the top of the priority list for John Longmire’s match committee, particularly given Ablett’s dominant record against the club.

The 28-year-old has averaged 32 possessions and polled 15 of a possible 21 Brownlow votes from his past seven games against the Swans. The only time he did not catch the eye of the umpires was in 2011, when he was injured early in the game.

Ryan O’Keefe and Craig Bird are likely to be the leading contenders for the job of shadowing Ablett, whose ability to win the ball inside the packs combined with his explosive pace makes him one of the most difficult midfielders in the competition to tag.

But there could be some relief for Sydney’s midfield – Ablett could be spending more time in attack.

”There’s no doubt as I get older it’s one thing I’m going to have to do – I’m going to move down forward and play more,” Ablett said. ”We’ve got so many guys who can run through the midfield and the more time we can get into those young guys the better we will get as a team. Each game my role is going to change.”

Ablett was keen to deflect praise towards his teammates on Sunday but plenty of others were lining up to pat him on the back after his match-winning effort of 34 possessions and four goals.

Suns coach Guy McKenna believes the two-time premiership winner at Geelong is better than his father – the great Gary Ablett, whom many regard as one of the best players ever to strap on a boot.

”I had the unfortunate pleasure of playing on his father a couple of times and being on the wrong end on those occasions,” McKenna said. ”I’ve watched Gary closely and he’s humble enough to say his old man is better than he is. I would beg to differ.”

McKenna’s thoughts were echoed by three-time Geelong premiership player James Kelly.

”Surely he isn’t still a jnr #topdog,” Kelly tweeted.

Collingwood’s Dane Swan, the 2011 Brownlow winner, and Ablett’s former teammates Joel Selwood and Steve Johnson were among those in awe of the Suns captain.

”Surely everyone hasn’t just worked out now that Gaz is one of the greatest of all time! Has been for 8 years!! #superstar,” Johnson tweeted.

Swans key forward Sam Reid was impressed by the snippets of Ablett’s game against St Kilda.

”I saw half a quarter of it. I heard everyone on Twitter, Facebook and social media going crazy,” Reid said. ”I only saw 10 minutes but he was pretty good in that 10 minutes.”

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SBW to face former teammates

Dangerous: Sonny Bill Williams trains at Moore Park in preparation for Monday night’s game. Photo: Jenny EvansSonny Bill Williams will play his first game against a former Bulldogs teammate in Monday night’s clash with Parramatta at Allianz Stadium.
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There are only two players still in the NRL who played alongside Sonny Bill Williams in his last game for the Bulldogs in 2008 before defecting to rugby union.

In Williams’ final game for the Bulldogs in round 18 of the 2008 season against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium, Reni Maitua and Ben Roberts were his teammates. While Maitua, now Parramatta co-captain, remains close with the dual international, he isn’t treating the showdown any differently to another game.

Asked how the Eels planned to shut down the Roosters back-rower, Maitua said: ”The same way every other team deals with him.

”He’s got a good offload, but there’s plenty of other good players in their side that are pretty dangerous, he’s just one of them.”

The Eels have enjoyed a 10-day turnaround from their round-three loss to the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval. Maitua conceded his side didn’t play up to standard against the joint-venture club but believes the long break will hold them in good stead against the Roosters on Monday.

”We’re feeling good, we’re coming off a big turnaround,” Maitua said. ”We were very disappointing against the Tigers. We’ve had a long turnaround and we’re hopeful of putting in a good performance on Monday night.”

The Roosters forward pack have stood up in the past two rounds to lead their side to victories against the Warriors at Eden Park and the Broncos back at Allianz Stadium.

Kiwi front-rowers Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Sam Moa have been two of the Roosters’ best in the first three weeks but Maitua is unfazed by the challenge.

”We’ve worked hard in the preseason and we’re not worried about their forward pack,” the veteran forward said.

The Eels welcome back winger Ken Sio, who hasn’t played since injuring an ankle in the round one victory against the Warriors.

Parramatta will also be boosted by the return of five-eighth Luke Kelly, who was also injured in the win against New Zealand in the opening round.

Kelly’s return has forced Roberts back to the bench to play the role of interchange hooker in combination with Matt Keating.

But it isn’t all good news for the Eels, who will be unable to call on experienced centre Willie Tonga for up to three months after the Queensland representative underwent back surgery on Friday. Tonga has played just 12 games for Parramatta since leaving the North Queensland Cowboys to rejoin the club he debuted for back in 2002.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson has named exciting young prop Kane Evans on an extended bench.

Evans is expected to make his NRL debut in place of Aidan Guerra, who played NSW Cup for feeder club Newtown on Saturday.

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Waterhouse reaches for fifth Slipper win

“This is the goal; anything else along the way is just a bonus. The Golden Slipper is what all the work is about”: Trainer Gai Waterhouse. Photo: Anthony JohnsonGai Waterhouse doesn’t use the calendar year, her year starts and finishes with the first Saturday in April and the Golden Slipper.
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The year may end the way she would hope it did last year when Pierro beat Snitzerland in the Slipper. As Pierro hit the line, the cycle had already started again, with the selection of yearlings.

Saturday means Waterhouse’s toil and hard work comes to fruition as she has three Golden Slipper runners, including $2.10 favourite Overreach.

”This is the end of 12 months of work with the babies,” she said. ”This is the goal; anything else along the way is just a bonus. The Golden Slipper is what all the work is about.”

Add appearances by Pierro and More Joyous, and even Waterhouse admits it will be one of the biggest days of her career at Rosehill. ”It is just exciting to have horses like More Joyous and Pierro going around in their races [the Queen Of The Turf and George Ryder Stakes],” she said.

”I have had some big Golden Slipper days – of course, when I had five runners one year [in 2001] and had four run and had the trifecta, that was exciting.

”I don’t think I have had a team like this going to a big day before.”

While Pierro and More Joyous will start odds-on favourites, Driefontein will be at each-way odds in the Vinery Stud Stakes.

”Driefontein is a very underrated filly, and she will run a very good race,” Waterhouse said.

But Slipper day is about the two-year-olds, and Waterhouse will search for her fifth winner from either Overreach, Whittington or Sweet Idea.

”The Slipper is the reason why we sent Overreach to Melbourne in the spring. Sweet Idea went to the Magic Millions [where she was runner-up] but was always going to the Slipper,” Waterhouse said. ”They both worked very well on Saturday. Overreach had a bit of a look-around, being by herself, but she is still the one to beat.

”Whittington, well, he had a setback in December and missed the Magic Millions, and has a couple of runs to boost his confidence. I’ll put a tongue tie on him for the Slipper. Nash [Rawiller] just said he was playing with his tongue the other day, and in the Slipper you can’t afford to be playing with anything.”

New Zealander Ruud Awakening’s connections will pay the $150,000 late-entry fee, while a decision on whether Queenslander Whiskey Allround will pay the late fee will be made after he gallops on Monday. Anthony Cummings and the owners of Scandiva are leaning towards not paying the late entry, even though she is guaranteed a Slipper run after her win in the Magic Night Stakes.

Peter Snowden confirmed Guelph and Kuroshio would run, and is monitoring how Pago Pago winner Sidestep pulls up.

”We will have the two runners for sure, and make up our mind on Sidestep after he works on Tuesday,” Snowden said.

Kerrin McEvoy has indicated he will probably ride Sidestep in if he were to run, which would mean a jockey would be needed for Guelph, as Darley have booked Christian Reith for Kuroshio.

Gerald Ryan is looking for a rider for Dothraki.

Slipper field (In order of entry)Criterion  $12Overreach  $2.10Sweet Idea  $15Sidestep  $10I’m All The Talk $17Scandiva  $35Romantic Moon  $26Fast ’N’ Rocking  $17Villa Verde  $12Kuroshio  $51Guelph  $26Whiskey Allround  $26Whittington  $15Ruud Awakening (NZ)  $17Dothraki  $51Charlie Boy $17Va Pensiero  $101

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Top spot rams home reality of knockout for Wanderers

On the mend: Shinji Ono trains with the Western Sydney Wanderers on Friday. Photo: Anthony JohnsonIn his own mind, Tony Popovic knows his Western Sydney Wanderers have already won the league, regardless of what happens from here. But whether he, the Asian Football Confederation or a legion of traditionalists who prefer the first-past-the-post model like it or not, the honour of being Australian champions is only bestowed upon the grand final winner.
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Popovic and his men must swallow the slightly gruesome reality of knowing that while his team are just two wins away from being crowned champions, they are also 90 minutes from elimination.

You read it right. Despite all their amazing deeds, a mistimed tackle, own goal, errant pass or sending off might be enough to end the Wanderers’ season.

Welcome to the new look finals series, where, in an attempt to spice up the playoffs, Football Federation Australia has made every game a knockout match.

It’s a complete reversal from the system of previous years, one skewed so heavily in favour of the top two teams, the remaining four were virtually no chance of claiming the title. Indeed, no team ever won from outside the top two, and only twice did a third-placed team make it to the decider (one time being when only four teams were in the finals). Teams from fourth, fifth and sixth never figured.

Now there’s great hope for any team that has the good fortune to make it to April. The difference between Perth and Western Sydney being champions from here? Perhaps no more than a penalty shootout.

However, the benefit for the Wanderers and Mariners for finishing in the top two – an extra week’s break – shouldn’t be underestimated, especially considering their respective fitness issues.

Instead of taking risks with their players this coming weekend, the premiers can now nurse Aaron Mooy, Jerome Polenz, Adam D’Apuzzo and skipper Michael Beauchamp – who managed to push through Friday’s 3-0 win over Newcastle – back to full health.

But the man who really needs the break is Shinji Ono. The 33-year-old has been cleared of any deeper damage to his groin but an extra fortnight of rest will do him the world of good.

Such has been his impact this season that neutrals across the country will have their fingers crossed he comes good in time. It would be a real shame to have him miss the finals.

The Central Coast Mariners just need a break, full stop. They’ve won their final three games of the regular season but they’re an exhausted batch – just ask Graham Arnold. If only they could use the whole fortnight to rest, but that’s not the case. They have to front up on Wednesday night at home to Chinese side Guizhou Renhe in the third game of their ACL campaign. With one point from two matches, a win is a must to keep their continental hopes alive.

To rub it in, they have to back up six days later for the return leg in Guiyang. Their A-League semi-final is five days later. At least the FFA had the good sense to schedule the game on a Sunday, but the coach will feel the planets have aligned against him once more.

Yet while some may accuse Whitlam Square of creating a finals series too cutthroat for its own good, nobody can accuse it of being boring. We’ve seen the marathon, now we’re about to get the sprint. It’s going to be one wild dash to the finish.

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It’s a honey-bunny win for English

Jason English wins the men’s 30-34 category. Photo: Katherine Griffiths Cyclists on the home stretch after 24 hours of riding. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
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Hot cross buns with honey were the secret weapon that helped power Jason English to his sixth consecutive Australian solo 24-hour championship at Stromlo Forest Park on Sunday.

The Port Macquarie teacher is hoping to find a baker willing to make some of the traditional Easter buns in October when he’ll return to Canberra for the world 24-hour championships.

He’ll be going for a remarkable fourth consecutive world title in the endurance event.

”Hot cross buns with honey is amazing,” English told The Canberra Times after the race.

”I haven’t really tried it before, I don’t know how many I had.

”I’ll have to get a bread shop to sponsor me so they can make hot cross buns in October, it’ll definitely be handy.”

While English has established himself as the benchmark in the men’s event, Wollongong’s Liz Smith was starting to do the same for herself in the women’s.

She won her second consecutive national title, to go with her 2012 Scott 24-hour title, by more than one lap of the 12-kilometre course.

Smith is yet to win a world title, but gets her chance to change that later this year.

While she’ll celebrate her 33rd birthday on Friday, Smith said she felt closer to 50 after her 24-hour ordeal, although she looked as if she’d just been on a Sunday afternoon ride.

”I’d like to think I could [emulate English], but there’s a lot of good girls out there and a lot of strong competition,” Smith said.

”I’ll give it everything I’ve got and see what happens.

”I think there’s going to be lots of competition [at the world titles], not just from the internationals, but from the other Australians that weren’t here today.

”Hopefully I’d like to [finish] top five.”

Smith completed 25 laps in 24 hours and 25 seconds.

Libby Adamson finished second and Francesca Sanders third, both with 24 laps.

While her win was comfortable, English was made to fight for his until the very last lap.

The OnTheGo Racing team member was just 10 minutes ahead of Canberra’s Ed McDonald going into the 33rd-and-final lap.

It had been as low as 90 seconds on Sunday morning before English ground it out to nearly 26 minutes by the end of race.

The 32-year-old felt it pointed to a close race at the world titles, albeit one dominated by Aussies.

”You definitely can’t be confident [going into world titles], a race that close, it could’ve gone either way,” English said.

”That just comes down to a flat tyre.”

The world titles will be held at Stromlo on October 12.

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Dual World Cups a lure for SBW

Work in progress: SBW wants to be selected on form. Photo: Jenny EvansSonny Bill Williams will return to Test football for New Zealand in two weeks in a move that may lead to the Sydney Roosters superstar becoming the first player to win World Cups in rugby league and union.
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Williams confirmed his decision to make himself available for the Kiwis on the eve of Monday night’s match against Parramatta – his fourth since returning to the NRL after five years in union – and will be selected in the Kiwis’ side for the April 19 Test against Australia at Canberra Stadium.

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney met with Williams in the week leading up to his Roosters debut on March 7 and asked about his availability, but the dual international wanted to ensure he was selected on form.

The 2011 Rugby World Cup winner was maintaining the same line on Sunday when asked about playing in the upcoming Test, but given how quickly he has readjusted to the game, Kearney will have no hesitation in choosing him.

”I’d love to say yes and I will definitely be putting my hand up if my form warrants it,” Williams told reporters during his first media session in Australia since starting training with the Roosters in February.

”We will have to see how I go but at this stage it’s about keeping my place at the Roosters and playing good consistent footy.”

After a solid but unspectacular start from the bench in his first match against South Sydney, Williams played 80 minutes in each of the Roosters’ other matches and was widely considered man of the match in last weekend’s 8-0 shutout of the Broncos.

While Williams was regarded as potentially one of the game’s greats when he walked out on the Bulldogs in 2008, Kearney said the way he has eased himself back into the game showed how much he has matured.

”The thing that I think everyone has been impressed with is the way he has improved since his first game. It is a real credit to him,” Kearney said.

”It would have been easy for him to come back and try to play the way he left it, but he has been very measured in the way he has gone about it and hasn’t tried to force things.

”We all know what he was capable of before he left the game, but the way he has come back is probably a sign he is a lot more mature and he has played that way.”

Kearney is yet to ask Williams about the World Cup at the end of the season but the fact he has made himself available for the one-off Test in Canberra suggests there is a strong possibility of him playing in the tournament.

Williams’ inclusion in the Kiwis squad would be a massive boost for the World Cup holders and also for tournament organisers in England, where ticket sales for the semi-final at Wembley and final at Old Trafford are already very strong.

After missing New Zealand’s triumph over Australia in the 2008 final to play rugby for Toulon in France, Williams would have the opportunity to become the first player to win World Cups in both codes.

Wendell Sailor and Mat Rogers came closest after winning the 2000 World Cup with the Kangaroos and being members of the Wallabies side that lost the final of the rugby union equivalent in 2003 to England.

Williams said the game was much more structured since he last played but after his stint in rugby union he was used to that.

”I’ve come back to league as a union player and I’m facing new situations,” he said. ”Sometimes they’re big hurdles but good players can overcome them.”

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Obstruction rule baffles Bennett

Newcastle coach Wayne Bennett has branded the policing of the obstruction rule  a “minefield’’ and  called for the NRL to address it before it costs a team a semi-final.
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The Raiders were on the wrong end of two contentious calls during Newcastle’s 28-12 win at Hunter Stadium on Sunday night.

In the first half, referees Gerard Sutton and Brett Suttor disallowed a try to Raiders centre Blake Ferguson after they ruled Josh McCrone had run behind decoy runner Brett White.

Sutton and Suttor penalised the Raiders without sending the call up to the video referees.

Also in the first half, video referess Shayne Hayne and Luke Patten awarded Newcastle winger Anthony Quinn a four-pointer, despite a Knights player making contact with McCrone in the defensive line.

Referees boss Daniel Anderson told all clubs before the season if an attacking player initiated contact with a defender, it would result in an automatic penalty.

But there is the belief defenders are using the interpretation to their advantage by deliberately making contact with an attacking player.

Coaches are becoming increasingly frustrated that defenders are being rewarded for poor reads.

Bennett is the most decorated and respected coach in the game and when he talks, officials generally listen.

“They’ve got a minefield for themselves and they’re going to have to fix it up,’’ Bennett said bluntly after the match.

“[Before this year’s interpretations] it was much simpler and the game has got to that complex stage.

“It’s going to create more controversy as the season goes on, and the games become more vital.’’

Told of Bennett’s comments, Canberra coach David Furner grinned and said simply “I would agree’’.

A case could be made in both instances last night for a try to be allowed or disallowed.

Therein lies the problem, with clubs desperate for that ‘grey area’ to be addressed.

It is particularly hurting the Raiders, whose attack is centred heavily around decoy runners and second-man plays.

The obstruction rule came under heavy fire when Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk was disallowed a try in last week’s win over the Bulldogs.

Officials deemed a Bulldog defender had been unfairly taken out by a Storm decoy runner, but most agree he was unlikely have played in part in attempting to stop the try.

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Hurt Wighton adds salt to Raiders’ loss

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 31: Adam Cuthbertson of the Knights scores a try during the round four NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders at Hunter Stadium on March 31, 2013 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images) Photo: Tony Feder iuytre
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How the match unfoldedWhat we learnedObstruction rule baffles BennettNRL ladder

A bruised and battered Canberra is furious Newcastle’s Akuila Uate escaped punishment for tackling Jack Wighton in the air after the Raiders winger hurt his wrist in Sunday night’s 28-12 loss at Hunter Stadium.

Early in the second half, with Canberra leading 16-12, Wighton leapt for a bomb but appeared to be tackled by opposite number Uate before his feet hit the ground.

Wighton has carried his wrist injury all season but the Raiders fear he may have broken it in his exchange with Uate.

Referees Gerard Sutton and Brett Suttor ruled a knock-on against Wighton, and the Knights scored off the next set when halfback Tyrone Roberts embarrassed Josh Papalii with a dummy.

The Raiders were also unhappy Knights hooker Danny Buderus was not penalised for a clear shoulder charge on Canberra centre Blake Ferguson in the second half.

Canberra coach David Furner is likely to seek clarification from referees boss Daniel Anderson.

Asked if there would be any team changes for next week, Furner replied: ‘‘I’m not thinking about that at the moment.

‘‘I’m thinking a couple of mandatory penalties would have helped us in the second half. There’s a couple I thought were mandatory.’’

Officials have heavily policed the shoulder charge since it was banned before the start of this season.

Ferguson lay on the ground for some time before playing the rest of the match after the Buderus hit, but Furner was bemused it did not result in a penalty.

‘‘I’m very surprised – very, very surprised,’’ Furner said. ‘‘There’s been a lot of ‘hoo-ha’ about it. I had a quick look at it on the replay [after the game] and it summed it up.’’

Raiders hooker Glen Buttriss (shoulder) and winger Sandor Earl (hamstring) will be assessed this week, while Knights skipper Kurt Gidley (concussion) played no part in the second half.

Having led 12-10 at half-time, a litany of errors and poor discipline cost the Raiders badly, the Knights scoring 18 unanswered second–half points.

In an early season hole at 1-3, Canberra need to regroup for crucial home assignments against the Sydney Roosters and New Zealand Warriors the next fortnight.

The Raiders trailed 10-0 early after Knights tries to Uate and fellow winger Anthony Quinn, but took a 12-10 lead through tries to Joel Thompson and Papalii.

However, momentum swung back in the Knights’ favour when Roberts’ ‘‘show and go’’ completely fooled Papalii.

Furner did not blame referees for the loss, saying Canberra was again its own worst enemy at times, especially in the second half.

They handed the Knights chance after chance, and two soft second-half tries to Newcastle prop Adam Cuthbertson sealed their fate.

Furner criticised the last-play options of halves Sam Williams and Josh McCrone, who are coming under increased pressure.

‘‘Our last play options, our kicking game was pretty poor tonight,’’ Furner said.

‘‘We didn’t give ourselves a chance in that first half, we visited their line four times and we didn’t even get a repeat set.

‘‘There were times there where our defensive principles and our discipline let us down.’’

Roberts backed up his starring effort in last week’s thrashing of the Cowboys with another brilliant effort, while Newcastle prop Kade Snowden made 192 metres from 16 runs.

As usual, Raiders lock Shaun Fensom was tireless with 103 metres and 59 tackles, while centre Ferguson (eight tackle breaks) looked threatening whenever he touched the ball.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS 28 (Adam Cuthbertson 2, Akuila Uate, Anthony Quinn, Tyrone Roberts, tries; Roberts 3, Kurt Gidley goals) bt CANBERRA RAIDERS 12 (Joel Thompson, Josh Papalii tries; Jarrod Croker 2 goals) at Hunter Stadium. Referee: Gerard Sutton, Brett Suttor. Crowd: 18,689.

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