George Williams has shown the benefit of an NRL season under his belt, steering Canberra to a comprehensive 30-12 win over Wests Tigers.
Having made the move from the English Super League last year, halfback Williams played a role in the Raiders’ first three tries at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
After they fell behind 6-0 early in a scrappy first half, Williams helped the Raiders regain their composure before taking control of the game and never letting go.
He was denied a 70-metre try himself in the second half, when Ryan Sutton was ruled to have taken Daine Laurie out early and forced a loose ball.
Williams spoke in the pre-season about how much more comfortable he was in 2021, after only entering the Raiders’ pre-season halfway through last year.
He helped set up the Raiders’ first try when he grubbered close to the line, before Jordan Rapana seized on the deflected ball to score.
The halfback then helped Ryan James over for a well-deserved try, in what was the former Gold Coast captain’s first NRL game in 693 days.
Williams’ boot then paved the way for the Raiders third, when his shallow bomb allowed Bailey Simonsson to leap high and flick it back for Hudson Young to cross.
The No.7 also finished with five goals from six attempts, stepping up as kicker in the absence of injured co-captain Jarrod Croker.
Rapana claimed a double in the win, with a smart Joe Tapine offload putting him over for his second try five minutes from full-time.
Wests Tigers’ new year of hope started with great promise but again fell victim to old problems.
Eight of their 11 handling errors came early in sets, while the Raiders were able to score off one of their loose balls when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad went over from inside in his own half.
They also missed 30 tackles, and gifted the Raiders field position for James’ try when Luke Garner made late contact on Jack Wighton kicking on halfway.
That penalty came in the first set after going to half-time at 6-6, swinging the momentum of the match after Jacob Liddle had scored the game’s first try for the Tigers.