A stirring second half effort saw the Canberra Raiders come from behind to beat the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 32-20 on a chilly Canberra evening.
The Bulldogs started the better of the two sides and opened the scoring when debutant Reimis Smith scored in the left corner. The opportunity came after Jack Wighton dropped a towering kick to give the Bulldogs a scrum feed 20 metres from their try line. Canterbury quickly moved the ball right to left for Smith to score unopposed.
The Raiders forwards were contained by the Canterbury pack and the Bulldogs had their second ten minutes later when Mbye’s deft grubber was grounded by Tolman.
However, the Raiders struck back instantly through Jordan Rapana. There appeared to be nothing happening for the Raiders before Austin danced his way to the right side of the field before passing to Leilua. The centre drew in the Bulldogs’ winger before offloading to his partner in crime to score in the right corner.
An error-strewn passage of play followed and Smith crossed to score his second try of the game. Faced with a difficult conversion Holland’s kick didn’t have any elevation, resulting in the score being 14-4.
Fired up by his earlier errors, Jack Wighton made a spectacular tackle on Perrett before following it up with another on Graham, who dropped the ball as a result. Croker gathered the loose ball to run 60 metres before being tackled. With the right edge vacant, the Raiders shifted the ball to Austin who drew in the sole defender before passing to Leilua, who scored.
The Bulldogs started the second half the brighter of the two sides and were rewarded with a try. Moses Mbye stepped to his left before running through the line to score under the posts.
Joe Tapine scored his first try since moving the Raiders to start the comeback for the Green Machine. Leilua managed to open up the Bulldogs’ defence with a powerful run before Tapine scored on the next play. Croker sent the ball through the sticks to bridge the gap to four points.
With momentum behind them, the Raiders powered down the field. Blake Austin looked to have scored but was ruled to have lost the ball short of the line.
The setback didn’t deter the Raiders though and they levelled the scores through Edrick Lee. Wighton gathered a towering kick before running hard at the line and setting up Lee for a try. Croker couldn’t convert the try from the sideline to leave the scores locked with 15 minutes remaining.
The Raiders made good use of their momentum and Sia Soliola scored a minute later to give the Raiders the lead. In his first game back from an arm injury he sustained against the Bulldogs in round 5, Soliola was too powerful for Canterbury’s defence. Croker made no mistake from the tee to give Canberra a six-point lead.
Tapine secured the win for the Green Machine two minutes from time with his second try of the match. The Bulldogs attempted a high kick in the path of Wighton but the bouncing ball was gathered by Croker who almost ran the length of the field before he was tackled. Tapine received the ball from dummy half and was too strong for Canterbury’s defence.
Raiders 32 (Tries: Rapana, Leilua, Tapine 2, Lee, Soliola Conversions: Croker 4/6) defeated Bulldogs 20 (Tries: Smith 2, Tolman, Mbye Conversions: Holland 2/4)