Raiders eye finals after beating Dragons - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raiders eye finals after beating Dragons

By Ben Horne 22/08/2010 07:14:36 PM Comments (0)

Canberra surged into finals contention by maintaining their strong record over St George Illawarra with an emphatic 32-16 victory on Sunday.

The Raiders haven't lost to the Dragons in Canberra since 2000 and have now won 10 of the past 11 matches played between the teams.

Denied in the first half by St George Illawarra's gutsy goal-line defence, the Raiders persevered and the floodgates opened as the home team stuck the boot into their bunny side in front of a delirious crowd of 20,445 at Canberra Stadium.

Their chances of sneaking into the playoffs were also enhanced by losses to Parramatta, South Sydney, Brisbane and the Warriors - all fringe top eight teams.

St George Illawarra coach Wayne Bennett admitted his side do have a problem winning in the nation's capital, and praised the Raiders as the equal of any team they have played.

At a similar stage last year the Dragons were beaten by the green machine in Canberra, lost confidence and never regained it as they were bundled out of the finals in the second week.

Bennett is unconcerned about history repeating itself in 2011.

"It's more about ourselves and there's something why we can't play too well here. Last year we kind of threw it away and I felt today we did the same thing," Bennett said.

"I expected a flat spot ... we've been on our game and we've tried extremely hard ... so we were just a little bit off the pace but that's not taking away from Canberra, they just played extremely well and they're an extremely good football team."

St George Illawarra scored early in the first half through Brett Morris and some stoic goal-line defence kept Canberra scoreless.

The Raiders' superior field position eventually paid off in the second half where at one stage they completed 14 consecutive sets of six.

Daniel Vidot scored the first of Canberra's six tries in the 48th minute, and the writing was on the wall for the Dragons when Raiders five-eighth Terry Campese kicked for himself and touched down under the posts for a 12-4 lead.

Electric Canberra fullback Josh Dugan picked up a Jamie Soward chip in the 63rd minute, bumped off an attempted tackle from Neville Costigan and sprinted more than 70 metres to score.

St George Illawarra scored late tries through Mark Gasnier and Costigan, however four-pointers by Joe Picker and ultimately Glen Buttriss meant the Raiders were always safe.

Canberra have now moved to 26 competition points and are only edged out by Brisbane - who they play in a potential top eight playoff in round 26 - by points differential.

"There was a huge amount of hype building up to this game so everyone would have spent a lot of energy during the week preparing right for it and in the game itself too," said man-of-the-match David Shillington.

"So I think it's important we have a couple of days rest and down time and then come Wednesday or Thursday, start firing back up again otherwise we might start a bit flat next week against the Cowboys."

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