Raiders continue Dragons' Canberra woes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raiders continue Dragons' Canberra woes

25/07/2011 09:55:20 PM Comments (0)

A last minute try to Josh Dugan extended St George Illawarra's Canberra hoodoo for yet another year, as the Raiders stunned the NRL premiers with a 24-19 upset in the nation's capital on Monday night.

Without a win in Canberra since 2000, the Dragons appeared set to break their run of outs when Jamie Soward piloted a field goal with less than two minutes on the clock to put his side up by one point.

But the Raiders, who trailed 18-6 midway through the second stanza, came again after Mark Gasnier dropped a short kickoff to open up the possibility of a miracle.

Dugan - who kick-started the comeback with an individual try in the 53rd minute - delivered as he pounced on a delicate Josh McCrone grubber to spark wide celebrations on the field and in the Canberra coaching box.

A wasteful McCrone ensured the Raiders made little use of their early dominance, their angst intensified by a well-oiled Dragons machine as Brett Morris celebrated his 100th game with the opening points.

McCrone made amends when he sold Ben Creagh the world's biggest dummy to go over next to the posts, but the left-hand edge which has yielded the Dragons so many points in recent seasons again clicked into gear to put the visitors on top.

A brilliant Jamie Soward tap-on found Morris out wide, the Test winger doing well to get the ball back to Matt Cooper to give the Dragons back the lead.

Now dominating possession, the visitors were finding plenty of holes in the Canberra defensive line, Creagh running straight through one such gap to make it 14-6 to the red and whites.

Soward's off night with his goalkicking was keeping the Raiders in the game, but his kicking in general play was exemplary - the NSW Origin pivot putting one on a platter for Mark Gasnier for the joint venture's fourth try just before the break.

The signs were ominous to start the second period as Sam Williams kicked out on the full from inside his own half, the Dragons seemingly one try away from wrapping up the two points.

The try never came, however, as Dugan pulled the Raiders within six with a barnstorming effort, the rangy fullback beating three players to plant the ball over the line.

The Dragons sensed the Raiders were coming as Soward lined up - but declined - an opportunity for a field goal with more than 20 minutes remaining, Canberra jumping all over their apprehension as Blake Ferguson scored off the back of a Creagh knock-on close to his own line.

Jarrod Croker nailed the sideline conversion to draw the two sides level at 18-18, both sides missing field goal attempts before Soward knocked one over from long-range to seemingly put the game out of reach.

The loss left the Dragons facing a tough ask to finish the regular season in the top two, with coach Wayne Bennett lamenting the fact his players went into their shell after the break.

"I thought maybe those first 10-15 minutes (of the second half) we should have put them away. We were just a bit conservative," Bennett said.

"I'm not sure why we're doing that.

"... they were only 12 points out of it and 12 points is not enough in this competition to think you've won a game of football."

Asked if he thought the loss would dent the side's confidence, Bennett comically replied: "I shouldn't think so. They've been beaten here 11 years in a row."

Raiders coach David Furner was hoping the win would be a springboard to an unlikely late season run at the finals.

"To keep the Dragons to one point in that second half was pretty impressive," Furner said.

"The first emotion (after the game) is that it was a super try ... we're still alive and it's a very good game for the players. There was plenty of character there."

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