The Canberra Raiders have recorded a hard-fought victory against the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs on a cold Friday night at GIO Stadium, winning 14-4.
A masterclass from the forward pack helped set the foundation for the result, whilst Jarrod Croker also starred in his first game of NRL in 2022.
It was an action packed first 20 minutes of the match, with the scores remaining locked at nil all despite four separate tries being disallowed. Nick Cotric was the closest to getting over for the Green Machine, with it only being ruled out due to a double movement.
It was ultimately the Raiders who were able to get the first points of the game after a nice passing passage from the home team left them with numbers on the right-hand edge.
Elliott Whitehead opted not to pass as the second closest Raider to the sideline, instead bursting through multiple Bulldogs defenders to score in the corner. Croker could not convert from the sideline, giving Canberra a 4-0 lead in the 17th minute.
The Raiders were almost able to score their second just minutes later, after Hudson Young broke through the line to cross over. It was only a controversial forward pass call against Matt Frawley that denied the home side from extending their lead.
It was instead Frawley himself who scored the Raiders’ second of the evening, as the five-eighth broke the Bulldogs with a dummy before throwing another one to breeze past fullback Matt Dufty.
Croker made easy work of the conversion, adding the extra two to extend Canberra’s lead to 10-0 in the 31st minute.
Despite Croker going close in the 34th minute there would be no more points in the first half, with the Raiders heading into the sheds 10-0 up.
After a Cotric intercept left the Bulldogs short of numbers 10 minutes into the second half, Corey Waddell collected Brad Schneider high to give Canberra the opportunity to extend their lead with a penalty goal. Croker was able to slot it over from close to the sideline, extending the score to 12-0 in the 51st minute.
Against the run of play the Bulldogs were able to reduce the lead, with Matt Burton scoring off a six again set after piercing the Raiders defensive line in the 59th minute. He was not able to convert his own try, kicking it into the upright to leave the score at 12-4.
A Burton line drop out that found touch on the full would again give Canberra the opportunity to convert a penalty goal from directly in front, with Croker making no mistakes to extend the lead to 10 in the 69th minute.
Despite Dufty almost scoring in the last few minutes it was desperate defence from the Green Machine that kept the away side out, rounding out a deserved 14-4 win.
Canberra will be looking to take this momentum into Magic Round next weekend, as they aim to defeat the Sharks for the second time this year on Sunday afternoon in Brisbane.