A bruised and battered Canberra Raiders have overcome a glut of injuries to put away a dour Canterbury Bulldogs 26-10 and record their first win of the 2018 NRL season at GIO Stadium tonight.
The Bulldogs had the run of penalties and possession in the first half but consistently seemed unable to convert that into points - most noticeably after ten minutes when an Aaron Woods error near the Raiders' line was compounded by some soft defence that allowed Jordan Rapana to run 85 metres before Joey Leilua scored for the hosts on the next play.
A few minutes later Leilua had a double after a classy tap-back by Rapana and the home fans were in raptures. By this point Canterbury had lost Brett Morris to a concussion sustained in chasing Rapana in the lead-up to the first try, but it would be Canberra's players who dropped like flies - first Luke Bateman went off after slipping in a tackle and copping a knock.
Canberra looked to have extended their lead and Leilua a hat-trick when he crossed the line but Bunker officials ruled a knock on and the effort was chalked off. While the scorers weren't troubled before the break, Hingano and Oldfield took a spot in the HIA queue after copping heavy knocks.
With the Raiders' history this season of taking leads and not holding them, nerves understandably kicked in for the Green Machine as Kieran Foran split the line open, scoring a couple of plays after making a break himself. At 12-6 the 'Dogs looked like they could push their way back into the contest, Hopoate almost ensuring the game would go down to the wire just a couple of minutes later, but Canberra went up another gear and despite losing Sam Williams, got over the line next with Jarrod Croker latching on to a perfectly placed Sezer kick to extend the home side's lead.
Croker grabbed his second try with fifteen to go after Sezer went to the air and the captain came down with the ball from the contest, then converted his own try.
The headgeared Croker kicked two penalty goals before time expired, and Canterbury grabbed a consolation try through Josh Morris on the final siren to tie up the final score at 26-10. Next weekend, the Raiders host last-placed Parramatta while Canterbury have a trip to North Queensland to worry about.