The Canberra Raiders have snapped their six-game losing streak with a thrilling 36-34 win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs today at GIO Stadium.
A late reshuffle to the seventeen saw Jack Murchie get an opportunity, taking his place in the side at lock, with Ron Leapai moving back to the interchange bench.
Thomas Cronan also made his return to the side on the wing, meaning Chevi Ellis was the player to drop out of the team.
Murchie’s inclusion proved a masterstroke, as the debutant found himself on the receiving end of a Zac Woolford pass to sprint fifty metres and score the match-winning try in a thrilling conclusion.
The visitors struck first in the eighth minute after Canberra front-rower Daniel Dole was placed on report for a dangerous tackle. Canterbury rake Joseph Tramontana darted over the line to score off the ensuing set. Joshua Bergamin made no mistakes with the conversion, stretching the lead to 6-0.
The Bulldogs continued to mount pressure on the Canberra defensive line, but the hosts managed to repel the Canterbury attack.
The momentum swung in Canberra’s favour when Bulldogs Peter Tiatia was sin-binned for throwing a punch. The home side eventually crossed at the 20-minute mark through Fabien Paletua-Kiri. Captain Zac Woolford added the extras to tie the scores at 6-all.
Five-eighth Zeik Foster looked threatening just four minutes later as he busted through the Canterbury line, before Sebastian Kris found himself on the end of an overlap to score two plays later.
An error from the next set handed the Bulldogs a golden opportunity to draw level, and Canterbury backrower Luis Strickland took his chance as he charged over the line for his side’s second try. Bergamin slotted the conversion to lock the scores up at 12-all.
The blue and whites stole the lead just minutes later as Mario El Boustani scored a brilliant individual try. Bergamin pushed his side six points clear as he sent the ball sailing through the uprights with eight minutes left in the half.
Not to be outdone, Canberra’s William Samuel brushed off a host of Bulldogs defenders as he scored his side’s third four-pointer two minutes out from the siren. Woolford’s conversion saw the two sides enter the halftime break locked up at 18-all.
The visitors struck first in the second stanza, as Siaopo Tagaloa swooped on a loose ball to score in the 47th minute. Adam Keighran added the two points, kicking Canterbury to a 24-18 lead.
The Bulldogs rubbed salt into the wound off the next set, as Marcelo Montoya sprinted down the sideline to find D’Rhys Miller roaring up on his inside. Keighran converted Miller’s try for a 30-18 lead.
Hickson got his side back into the contest as some swift ball movement allowed the winger to go over untouched. Woolford’s conversion was waved away, with the score line remaining 30-22 in favour of Canterbury.
A stunning flick pass from Nick Cotric to Hickson saw the winger bag his second four-pointer just inside the right hand touchline to set up a thrilling finish. Woolford was unable to add the extras, with the Bulldogs holding a slender four-point lead with eight minutes remaining.
A charge down on a Logan Spaander kick saw Montoya sprint fifty metres to score in the corner for the visitors, stretching Canterbury’s lead to 34-26 with five minutes left on the clock.
Harry van Dartel darted through the Canterbury defence to score a superb try, giving the hosts one last roll of the dice. Woolford calmly slotted the conversion to reduce the margin to two with three minutes remaining.
Woolford rose above the pack in the next set, shooting down the blindside deep inside Canberra’s half before finding Murchie on his inside to score.
Canterbury had one last crack at the Canberra line, but ultimately couldn’t crack the Green Machine’s defensive line.