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Raiders Hold Off Dragons' Comeback to Keep Finals Hopes Alive

The Canberra Raiders have kept their finals ambitions alive by securing a 24-22 victory over the St. George Illawarra Dragons at GIO Stadium Canberra on Sunday afternoon.

After leading 24-12, the Dragons would score two late tries which set up a heart-stopping final five minutes, with the match not being decided until the final play.

With the win, the Raiders will remain in ninth position on the ladder and now sit just one win behind the eighth placed Roosters.

After missing last week, a returning Xavier Savage shined for the Raiders in their win with two try assists, two line break assists and 169 running metres.

The Raiders middle forwards also stood up in the absence of Joe Tapine with Papalii and Sutton combining for nearly 300 running metres.

The Raiders started strong and made their intentions known immediately with some brutal defence in the first set, which led to a Dragons error. 

This gave the green machine great field position and they took advantage in their first attacking set of the afternoon.

Woolford put in a great grubber kick to find Young on the last tackle who crossed over for the games first try in minute two. 

Fogarty converted from the left side of the post to give the Raiders an early 6-0 advantage.

However, it didn't take long for the Dragons to hit back after also earning great field position from an oppositions error and a set restart. 

It was a great individual run from Talatau Amone who managed to get the ball down despite some good scramble defence. 

Zac Lomax converted to tie the game at 6-6 in the ninth minute.

Defence was at a premium in the opening ten minutes and Ben Hunt once again delivered a 40/20 kick, but the Raiders were able to turn the Dragons away.

This put the momentum back with the Raiders but they were too unable to score despite some great runs from Emre Guler.

The game became a real arm wrestle for the next ten minutes but Hunt's kicking game proved to be the difference. 

Off the back of a repeat set thanks to a goal line dropout, Jack Bird offloaded the ball which was scooped up for Amone to score his second in the 20th minute.

Lomax converted once again to put the Dragons up by six points.

The Dragons seemed to have gotten the better of the green machine until Savage and Hopoate linked up for a great kick return which put them deep into Dragons territory. 

Papalii nearly bashed his way over the tryline with a great run but it was Savage who produced the try assist to Rapana who crossed over in the left corner.

Fogarty’s conversion attempt from the left sideline was successful, which tied the game up at 12 all in the 28th minute.

Momentum was then back with the green machine who then dominated field position thanks to some great kicks by Wighton and Fogarty.

In an attempt to change momentum, Ben Hunt went for a kick from deep inside the Dragons half but it was charged down by Ryan Sutton who then scored his first try of 2022. 

Fogarty converted from directly in front to give the Raiders a six point lead with two and a half minutes remaining in the half.

In the set after points, the Raiders produced a great set which ended in them forcing an error from the Dragons kick return.

This gave the home side an attacking set to close out the half but they failed to capitalise, giving the Raiders an 18-12 lead going into halftime.

The second half started great for Canberra with the Dragons kick-off going out on the full which put the green machine in the red zone.

Savage continued to shine as he set up another try, this time with a grubber kick for Albert Hopoate in the 42nd minute.

Fogarty kept his perfect conversion rate for the match alive with a beautiful conversion from the right sideline, giving the Raiders a 12 point lead.

The Raiders dominated possession to start the second half after the Dragons gave away a penalty and two set restarts.

Momentum would go back and forth between the two sides with the Dragons also earning their fair share of penalties and set restarts.

Like the first half, the game became a true arm wrestle and it didn't break open until an electrifying run from Timoko.

Unfortunately it didn't lead to points for the Raiders but it gave them the momentum heading into the final 20 minutes.

Hunt tried to break the scoring drought with a cross-field kick in the 23rd minute, which led to a line break from Feagai but the Raiders held firm in defence.

Yet another great kick from Hunt, this time a 20/40 would give the Dragons more attacking sets on the Raiders try line but this time they would capitalise.

It was another great run from Amone who would secure a first career hat trick in the 68th minute.

Lomax would keep his perfect conversion rate alive and bring the Dragons deficit to six points.

With the game separated by just one converted try, both sides were desperate to be the next to score and it would be the Dragons through Moga after a great ball by Amone.

Lomax had a chance to tie the game with a crucial conversion from the right sideline but it would miss, leaving the Raiders with a two point advantage with four minutes remaining.

With just two minutes remaining, Foagrty would put in a kick to try and keep the Dragons deep inside their own half and it was backed up by Harawira-Naera who came up with a one on one steal.

The Dragons would get the ball with 30 seconds remaining and it was Feagai who produced a line break down the left sideline before he was wrapped up by some great scramble defence.

The Raiders held on to secure a 24-22 win at home and will have a chance to continue their push into the top eight when they take on the Knights next Sunday.



Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.