The Canberra Raiders have lost to the St. George Illawarra Dragons in a closely fought contest at WIN Stadium this Saturday.
The game started in bizarre fashion when Josh Papalii was cut open in a head clash with Josh Kerr in the first minute. Despite the cut, the big prop was able to stay on the field and keep playing.
In the eighth minute, Josh Hodgson put Corey Harawira-Naera over the line with a brilliant pass out of dummy-half to open the scoring for the Raiders.
The Dragons had a chance to strike back when Ben Hunt found space down the short side and passed to Mikaele Ravalawa in the open field, but an exceptional tackle from Bailey Simonsson saved a certain try.
As the game wore on, the Raiders dominated field position and were able to keep the Dragons pinned in their own half.
Eventually, the Raiders’ pressure paid off as Elliott Whitehead found Sebastian Kris close to the line with a fantastic offload. Kris went over to score, and Sam Williams converted to take the Raiders lead out to 12-0.
Kris then showed off his defensive skills minutes later when he intercepted a pass from Gerard Beale on his own try line to stop the Dragons from scoring.
It took until the 32nd minute for the Dragons to get onto the scoreboard. It was their late call-up, Billy Burns, who was able to break through and score.
Just before halftime, Sebastian Kris was hit in a dangerous tackle by Jack Bird, resulting in a penalty for the Raiders. Sam Williams added the two points, giving the Raiders an eight-point buffer going into half-time.
The Raiders brought on 18th man Xavier Savage at the start of the second half for his NRL debut but the speedster was taken off the field due to confusion about his involvement.
The Dragons opened the scoring in the second half with a Corey Norman penalty goal after Josh Hodgson failed to get back to marker before attempting a tackle.
Joe Tapine hit back for the Raiders in the next set. The big forward smashed through the Dragons’ defence to take the Raiders out to a 20-8 lead.
A bit of Ben Hunt magic got the Dragons back into the game. Hunt ran it on the last tackle and caught the Raiders defence off-guard, eventually finding Gerard Beale for the score.
Dragons’ debutant, Tyrell Sloan, was next to score after he chipped over the defence and eventually found his way to the tryline. Norman couldn’t convert, leaving the scores at 20-16 in favour of the Raiders.
Joe Tapine was put on report minutes later for dangerous contact, but the Dragons couldn’t take advantage of the situation.
It seemed as if Jack Wighton put the Raiders out to a two-try lead in the 58th minute, but the try was disallowed due to obstruction.
The game turned into a see-sawing affair as the half progressed, with both teams trying to find the ascendancy. Ben Hunt then put the Dragons on the front foot with a 40/20, and Corey Norman scored during the next set. With 10 minutes to go, Norman converted his own try to give the Dragons their first lead of the game.
The Raiders tried to find a spark in the last 10 minutes to take back the lead, but they could not get the win.
St George Illawarra Dragons 22 (Tries: B Burns, G Beale, T Sloan, C Norman; Goals: C Norman 2; Penalty Goals: C Norman). d Canberra Raiders 20 (Tries: C Harawira-Naera, S Kris, J Tapine; Goals: S Williams 2; Penalty Goals: S Williams)