A spirited fight back wasn't enough to keep the Raiders NYC side's winstreak alive, as they lost to St George Dragons 24-20 at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Dragons came out with a strong intent on breaking their four game losing streak against bitter rivals Canberra. Unfortunately for the Green Machine they were unable to put together back to back tries and were left chasing the Dragons for much of the contest.
St George's forwards were too strong as they made easy metres through the middle and the backs enjoyed the lions share of the territory. Luciano Leilua for the Dragons proved too good on multiple occasions worrying Canberra's defense throughout the game.
The first 40 minutes was a case of both sides unable to take full advantage of their attacking opportunities. The Raiders could have easily piled on the points, but due to errors and poor discipline, the half was close but ended in the Dragons favour.
In the 12th minute St George were the first to open up the scoring through a line break from Jacob Host. Deep in attack the Dragons threw the ball out wide to fullback Matthew Dufty who took on the Raiders defense and earned his side 4 points. The conversion was successful and the score was 6-0.
Against the run of play the Green Machine fought hard to earn themselves a try in response. Off the back of good attacking runs, Chevi Ellis recieved the perfect offload and used his speed to beat the opposing fullback to score inside the left corner post. Lachlan Croker was left with a tough conversion attempt which he missed to leave the score 6-4.
Seven minutes later the Dragons were then able to take advantage of a couple of errors conceded by the Raiders in their half. The ball fell in the hands of Luciano Leilua who produced a barnstorming run =, proving too strong for Canberra's cover defense. The lead was then extended 10-4 after the conversion was missed by Topiese Taufu.
As the Raiders had done all half, they answered back in impressive fashion after conceding points. Jack Williams broke numerous tackles and showed off his speed down the right hand side to then produce a brilliant offload to Thomas Cronan. The winger Cronan then placed the ball down to score the Green Machines second try. Croker again missed the conversion which left Canberra behind 10-8.
On the stroke of half time the Raiders were then gifted a penalty just 5 metres out from the Dragons uprights. Lachlan Croker stepped up and converted the important penalty goal to tie the game up ten all at half time.
Canberra looked to be positive early in the second half but the Dragons were first to score in the 41st minute through fullback Matthew Dufty. The speedy fullback took the high bomb on his 10 meters and ran 90 meters down field to open the Dragons account for the second half. With the easy conversion from infront successful St George was again in the lead 16-10.
Canberra then continued the trend of the game and managed to answer right back when it was needed. Tevita Pangai Junior earned himself a try after a powerful run at the Dragons defense. Breaking three tackles Tevita managed to score the Raiders third for the afternoon. The conversion attempt again hurt Canberra's chance to tie it up and the dragons were still leading in the 52nd minute 16-14.
Numerous penalties again hurt the Raiders as St George were able to extend their lead. The Dragons threw the ball to the short side and Canberra were outnumbered on the edge, Topiese Taufu scored his second of the game in the right corner. Canberra were now left an uphill run behind 6 points 20-14 with just 20 minutes left in the game.
St George went about breaking their losing streak by scoring back to back tries for the first time in the match in the 61st minute. Luciano Leilua again showed his strength at the line, palming off the Raiders defense to score his second of the game. Conversion kicking was not on shown for this match as another one was missed, score was then 24-14 in St George's favour.
Late in the second half Canberra refused to lie down as they looked to put the pressure back on St George. Hard hitting forward Morgan Boyle saw a gap in the goal line defense of the Dragons and burst through it to score a much needed four pointer for the Green Machine. Lachlan Croker was successful in his attamept at conversion and the lead was then only four points 24-20 with just 8 minutes to go.
Unfortunately for the Green Machine that was where the scoring ended as the Dragons managed to run out four point victors. Canberra will be dissapointed with the loss against bottom of the ladder dwellers St George Illawarra, as they blew numerous chances in the both halves to secure the win.
A standout player for the Raiders was Tevita Pangai Junior, strong in defense and damaging in attack including scoring a try, he was more often than not leading the charge against the Dragons. With two home games in a row for the NYC side, they will have to quickly put behind this dissapointing loss in order to concentrate on the task ahead.