The Raiders have overcome a slow start to defeat the Canterbury Bulldogs 24-18 at Belmore Sports Ground.
The Raiders made several late changes and positional shifts to the team that was named on Tuesday. Thomas Cronan returned to the side at fullback, with Tre Williams shifting to the wing and Harry Van Dartel dropping out of the team to become 18th man.
Jarred Tuite also started for the Raiders in the second row, with Jack Williams moving to the bench. Jesse Martin replaced Jayden Thomas from the team named on Tuesday.
After a series of slow starts in previous matches, the Raiders were hoping to turn things around in their start against the Bulldogs. A knock-on from a Bulldogs kick gifted the Bulldogs their first attack of the match, and they didn’t disappoint, scoring in the left corner through Marcelo Montoya. A conversion from the sideline by Zac Greene saw the Bulldogs take an early 6-0 lead.
A penalty to the Bulldogs after the kick-off gave them another great attacking opportunity, with the Raiders defence tested again early. Peter Tiatia powered across under the posts to give the Bulldogs another early try, with the conversion from in front successful by Greene.
The Raiders begun to play to their potential and back-to-back penalties gave them their first shot at the Bulldogs line. After repeat sets of six the Raiders eventually found a hole in the Bulldogs defence, with a nifty pass from Zac Woolford setting up Daniel Dole for an easy try under the posts. Woolford slotted the conversion in front to cut the margin back to 12-6.
The try seemed to help the Raiders find their groove, as they begun to grab the upper hand over the Bulldogs, threatening the line on two occasions with kicks. A period of sustained pressure was eventually rewarded when Nick Cotric found Thomas Cronan on the left to score in the corner. Woolford nailed the conversion from the sideline to even things up.
The half ended with both teams mounting solid attacking raids for no result, with the score remaining 12-12 at half-time.
The second-half begun in a positive fashion for the Raiders, testing the Bulldogs defence with repeated sets. Tre Williams found a gap in the tiring Bulldogs defence and did it all himself, brushing off several defenders to grab the Raiders the lead for the first time in the match. Woolford showed he brought his kicking boots to Belmore by converting the try to stretch the Raiders lead to six.
Just when it seemed like the Raiders would run away with the victory, D’Rhys Miller took it upon himself to lead the fight back. Miller latched onto his own grubber kick to give the Bulldogs the perfect four point response. Greene again converted to tie the game back up.
The match entered a stalemate until the Raiders finally broke through the Bulldogs defence on the right wing. Zeik Foster was in the right place at the right time to finish off the lightening movement. Woolford converted the try to give the Raiders a 24-18 lead with 18 minutes remaining.
The half continued on a quieter note to the first, with the Raiders managing to withstand everything the Bulldogs could throw at them. Several last ditch Bulldogs attack came to nothing, as the Raiders showed enormous fortitude in front of the Belmore crowd to win 24-18.
Raiders (Dole, Cronan, T Williams, Foster. Woolford 4/4) 24 defeated the Bulldogs 18 (Tiatia, Montoya, Miller. Greene 3/3)