Raiders dream after securing sixth place - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raiders dream after securing sixth place

By Peter Veness 08/09/2008 09:46:45 AM Comments (0)

Preseason wooden spoon favourites Canberra dared to dream of NRL premiership success after surging into sixth place with a 52-34 riot over real cellar dwellers the Bulldogs.

The Raiders completed a stunning late season revival with a nine-tries-to-seven win at Canberra Stadium, the 18-point margin just enough to jump St George Illawarra on the NRL table.

In-form playmaker Terry Campese scored a try and booted eight of nine conversion attempts for a 20-point personal haul that cast aside fears of a hamstring injury that threatened to derail the comeback.

Centre Joel Monaghan and fullback David Milne also chimed in with a hat-trick of tries each to help seal the win in front of 15,411 fans.

Having won seven of their last nine games to surge into the finals, Raiders skipper Alan Tongue abandoned his one-game-at-a-time mantra to reveal his lofty hope that the Green Machine could continue their charmed run.

"You always dream. That's what being in this game is about," said Tongue.

"You dream, obviously, about getting there in the end.

"We've got a lot of work to do and we've just got to get back into the recovery session and go through our week and do what we do and we know that we need to be much better next week."

But Canberra coach Neil Henry warned his side must do better in defence to advance beyond next week.

They conceded seven tries to the last-placed team in the competition and such an effort in next Saturday's qualifying final against the third place team will end in tears.

"You've got to be able to defend in finals footy," said Henry.

"We've leaked a few tries today, they exposed us a few times and we need to be much better than that.

"The best thing to come out of today is that we've got a couple of cramps but no injuries."

Three-try hero and NSW Origin centre Monaghan also admitted defence was Canberra's weak spot.

Had Bulldog sharpshooter Hazem El Masri landed more than just two of six attempts today the Raiders would have finished behind the Dragons on for-and-against and been forced into a guaranteed sudden-death qualifying final.

"We needed to win by 18, we scored 52 and we only just did it so we definitely need to fix our defence up for next week," said Monaghan.

It was the second time this year Canberra chalked up a half century against the Bulldogs, with a 58-18 mauling at ANZ Stadium in round 15.

The loss was the eighth in a row for the Bulldogs, ensuring the once mighty club finishes with the wooden spoon in a year remembered more for their off-field drama.

Coach Steve Folkes ended his more than 30 years involvement with the club today while veteran hooker Corey Hughes scored a try and booted the first goal of his career in his last game in blue and white.

It is the second wooden spoon for Folkes since he took over coaching in 1998, although the previous prize came in 2002 when the Doggies were docked 37 competition points for rorting the salary cap.

"I don't have a de-brief planned," said Folkes.

"I think it's best to go cold turkey and move on."

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