Despite a spirited comeback, the Canberra Raiders were unable to bounce back a horror start to the match, ultimately falling 41-34 against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs in front of a crowd of 12,221 at GIO Stadium.
The Raiders started out shaky falling 26-0 down inside the first 15 minutes however they grew into the encounter and fought back to fall painfully short of pulling off another great comeback win.
The Bulldogs were able to get the scoring under way in just the 3rd minute when hooker Michael Lichaa picked up a loose ball and beat two tackles to score. The conversion was successful from Moses Mbye for a six-nil lead.
The ensuing kick-off from the Raiders went out on the full and the Bulldogs capitalised on the error. From the restart the Bulldogs spread the ball out wide for their winger Curtis Rona to score in the corner. The conversion was successful from out wide for a 12 point lead to the Bulldogs.
It was three tries in the opening 10 minutes as the Bulldogs crossed again in the 8th minute after Josh Reynolds crossed despite the Raiders best efforts to try and stop him, and with the successful conversion it was 18-0 to Canterbury.
It was four answered tries when Reynolds again found his way to the try line after an attempted strip from Blake Austin found its way to Mbye who passed to Reynolds to score his second for the match. The perfect kicking from Mbye continued with the replacement halfback kicking the conversion and then a penalty goal soon after to give the Dogs a 26-0 lead.
The Raiders were finally able to open their account in the 30th minute after a quick offload found its way to Austin who spread the ball wide to Sisa Waqa who scored despite having two Bulldog defenders trying to push him into touch. The conversion from Jarrod Croker was unsuccessful leaving the score at 26-4 to the Bulldogs.
The Raiders were able to score another before half-time to further reduce the Bulldogs lead after a great kick by Croker off the side of his foot caught the Bulldogs defence unaware and Shaun Fensom regathered the ball to score. Croker converted to make it 26-10.
That was not the end to the scoring for the first half though as the Raiders were able to cross again right on half-time. Josh Papalii was able to reap the rewards of a perfectly weighted kick by Austin that the Bulldogs defence could not deal with. The conversion was once again converted by Croker to bring it back to 26-16 in favour of the Bulldogs going into half-time.
After prolonged attacking pressure on the Bulldogs line, the Green Machine were finally able to capitalise on this pressure in the 52nd minute when Austin crossed after a short burst close to the line. Croker converted to bring it back to a four point game.
The Bulldogs did not wait long to reply however and increased their lead to eight points when Frank Pritchard scored in the corner, however the conversion from Mbye was unsuccessful.
The back-and-forth scoring continued with the Raiders hitting back with a try of their own. A grubber kick was put through from dummy half by Josh Hodgson and was subsequently pounced upon by Mitch Cornish who scored. The conversion by Croker was successful to reduce it to a two point game.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs increased their lead once again when Corey Thompson was able to score in the corner despite the best efforts of the Raiders defence to put him into touch. Mbye missed the conversion for a 34-28 point Bulldogs lead.
The Raiders showed tremendous courage to never give up and managed to draw the game level with five minutes to go when Waqa scored his second try of the game after breaking open the defensive line of the Bulldogs and holding off two defenders to get the ball down. Croker converted to leave the score at 34 all.
A field goal from Reynolds and then a try from the kick-off to Mbye, and subsequent conversion, left the Raiders to fall 41-34.
An injury to Jordan Rapana (ankle) will also be a concern for the Raiders heading into next week’s match with the Brisbane Broncos. The severity of the injury will be determined throughout the week.
Man of the Match: Shaun Fensom
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 41 (Reynolds 2, Lichaa, Rona, Pritchard, Thompson, Mbye Tries; Mbye 6/8 Goals; Reynolds 1 Field Goal) defeated Canberra Raiders 34 (Waqa 2, Fensom, Papalii, Austin, Cornish Tries; Croker 5/6 Goals)