Practice makes perfect: How Raiders hung on with 12 men

The toughest 10 minutes of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad's career were made easier by specific sin-bin training drills that Canberra have stepped up in recent weeks to grind their way into a historic grand final.

Nicoll-Klokstad "would've broken down and been a mess" if his late professional foul against South Sydney's Adam Reynolds had squandered a golden grand final ticket, with the Raiders reduced to 12 men for the end of their 16-10 triumph on Friday night.

Instead a rampaging Josh Papalii try and resolute defence, along with some poor handling and execution from the Rabbitohs, ensured Canberra progress to their first decider since 1994.

Key to the Raiders' resolve has been the weekly 13 on 12 defence scenarios coach Ricky Stuart has run for this exact game-day situation.

"I was sitting there in the sheds, I couldn't take my eyes off it," Nicoll-Klokstad told NRL.com.

"With what was at stake, that was rough. I was just thinking 'if something goes wrong ...'. If we'd lost I would've put that all on myself. I would've broken down and been a mess.

"But I was actually pretty confident that they could do it and do a good job. After that first set I walked off the field a little bit happier because their defence, the response to that first bit of it was amazing.

"We've been training that way a little while now, we do a 12-man scenario about once a week.

"That last Melbourne game, we went 20 minutes like that and there was a Dragons game too (when Nick Cotric was sent off for a spear tackle on Tim Lafai) where we played with only 12 men for 25 minutes."

The Melbourne game Nicoll-Klokstad refers to saw Jack Wighton and Joe Tapine marched and the Storm shoot to an 18-0 lead, only for Canberra to run them down in a famous 22-18 victory back in August.

According to Wighton the Raiders have increased their sin-bin scenario training leading into the business end of 2019 given the prevalence of professional fouls being picked up over the last two years.

"It started earlier in the year but it's become more common in our training now as we've got towards finals because we've seen how often it's happening," Wighton said.

"It's something that's really become a thing for us. We're doing it once a week now in our defence training.

"Coaches will call a 10-minute scenario for us and we rip in and we've seen ourselves handle it when it's the real thing.

"This year we've done it a bit, we did it against the Storm and games like that, it builds confidence that you can handle a situation like that.

"I think we've been prepared better and better for that. Everybody just turns up and does their job, it's no big secret to it."