The Raiders have fallen short to an injury riddled Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs outfit, going down 16-10 at ANZ stadium
Without James Graham and Josh Reynolds for the second half, the Bulldogs displayed some hardy defence to hold out the Raiders late in the second half as they franticly tried to force the match into golden point.
As the siren sounded to start the match, the Raiders looked confident as they brought the ball back up the field with confidence trying to put the big forwards of the Bulldogs on the back foot.
But it was the Bulldogs who got the early advantage as Adam Elliott bounced past a tackle from Blake Austin to score a four pointer in the corner after almost as many minutes.
As a result of some poor defence and giving away some easy penalties to get the Bulldogs out of trouble, they enjoyed early field possession and tested the Raiders defence for the opening quarter of the match.
It took 15 minutes for the Raiders to find themselves in the oppositions 20 metres thanks to a brilliant intercept on his own line from Nick Cotric, to put the Raiders up the other end of the field.
The Raiders made no mistake of converting their field possession into points after Jarrod Croker crossed over in the corner.
On the back of a short ball from Aiden Sezer, Josh Papalii broke through the blue wall of the Dogs defensive line before offloading to Croker who flew past the corner post to plant the ball down in the corner.
Aiden Sezer took on responsibility for the conversion after Croker pulled up lame from the try but failed to put the ball over, moving the score line to a stalemate at 4 points apiece.
As the game got back underway, the match fell back into an arm wrestle as the big men from both teams battled it out in the middle of the field to try and give their team the upper hand.
But it was the Raiders who would break the run of play and go 100 metres in just three plays thanks to 18-year-old Nick Cotric.
Returning a kick in the 30th minute, Cotric ran 20 metres sideways before finding a whole in the middle of the field to sprint up to the halfway line. Jack Wighton then got involved to skilfully pick up the ball one handed at full speed to earn the Raiders another 20 metres and place them in the Bulldogs red zone.
But it was the Englishman Josh Hodgson, who claimed the glory to go over untouched and place the ball under the black dot dot after darting out of hooker off the back of Wighton’s quick play the ball.
Croker then retained the goal kicking duties and easily added the extras as the Raiders went into the sheds at half time with a 10-4 advantage
The Bulldogs came out onto the field for the second half missing a host of their big name stars with Captain James Graham, being sidelined by the HIA unit and Josh Reynolds, staying in the sheds after suffering a hamstring injury late in the first half.
But despite the loss of two of their biggest players, the Dogs of war showed their fighting spirit as they came out and instantly put the Raiders on the back foot.
After only four minutes of the second half the Bulldogs found themselves setting up for a kick off once again after Josh Morris went over after a well-executed back-line move. Kerrod Holland made sure of the kick to tie the match once again at 10-all.
After 50 minutes of play, the Bulldogs engine room was firing after the Morris try, and they enjoyed a host of field possession and momentum off the back of it, limiting the Raiders time on the ball and controlling the match to fit their style of play.
The pressure and large amounts of defence became too much for the Raiders in the 58th minute as doggies youngster Adam Elliott crossed the white stripe for the second time in his short career to give the Dogs a six point buffer 16-10.
With 20 minutes remaining the Bulldogs started becoming noticeably tired as the injuries started to take their toll.
The Raiders could sense the game was in the balance and began to open their bag of tricks as they desperately tried to find a way into Bulldogs territory and force the match into Golden Point.
Swinging the ball from left to right and unleashing their trademark flamboyant style of unstructured football, the Raiders still couldn’t find a way through the Bulldogs defence.
A last ditch chip kick attempt to find Cotric on the wing proved the last chance the Raiders would have as the Bulldogs bravely held off the Raiders to finish with the win.
The Raiders will come up against Newcastle Knights at 2pm next Sunday at McDonald Jones Stadium.