Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
98 mins ago
It could be a cliche, but it was most certainly a game of two halves today as the Canberra Raiders continued their recent run of dominance over competition leaders St George Illawarra Dragons, inflicting a 32-16 scoreline against the heavyweights at Canberra Stadium in front of 20,445 fans.
The Raiders had to do it tough, the first half looking like a marathon for both sides as they faced tough opposition. The Dragons barely got their hands on the ball while the Raiders tried as hard as they possibly could to go over the line. However, the fifth minute try to Dragons winger Brett Morris remained the only points scored in the first forty minutes. The Dragons were able to spread the ball wide, past Raiders winger Daniel Vidot who came in-field, to score early and take a 4-0 advantage.
The Raiders continually rammed the Dragons defensive line, but the visiting side continued to hold on. There were numerous occasions where Raiders players would concede an error either close to or over the Dragons tryline as the best defensive team in the competition lived up to their mighty reputation.
The second half began and little did Canberra coach David Furner know, but his decision to bring on interchange hooker Glen Buttriss proved a match winner as he starred in an incredible performance. The Raiders gained momentum quickly as Daniel Vidot went wide to score early in the half, getting the Raiders onto the board. Jarrod Croker kicked a sideline conversion, living up to the reputation he has set for himself, giving the Canberra Raiders a 6-4 advantage. It wasn't over for the Dragons however, as the Raiders continued to attack. At times it even looked like the Green Machine of the 90's as the young Raiders side were able to make metres at will against the defenceless Dragons (a rarity in itself). Raiders five-eighth Terry Campese used a piece of individual brilliance to score a try, before Adam Mogg joined the scoring, setting Canberra to a surprising, yet not so surprising 16-4 advantage. They didn't let up either. Even when the Dragons came close to scoring, the Raiders were able to easily take the advantage as Josh Dugan ran seventy minutes to score untouched. A line break from Josh McCrone saw Jarrod Croker break free, setting up second rower Joe Picker for the Raiders fifth try. The scoreline, well, was now a lot more surprising at 26-4.
But the Dragons were far from done. A sight of the old "shimmy shimmy woop" Mark Gasnier gave the Dragons hope, but a controversial try to Neville Costigan gave them a massive chance to win the game from nowhere. However, the Raiders were forced to re-group, and they did so, in order to shut out the game. Glen Buttriss scored a late, but very deserved try to seal the result, giving Raiders fans the slightest chance of watching their side play finals football in 2010. The Dragons however will have to re-group themselves in order to seal up their second straight Minor Premiership. In further bad news for the Dragons, prop Neville Costigan was placed on report for a dangerous tackle on Trevor Thurling, who is expected to play next weekend.
Meanwhile in the Toyota Cup the St George Illawarra Dragons were forced to recover from a 24-6 half-time deficit to claim a 28-all draw with the Canberra Raiders. In the NSW Cup the Shellharbour Dragons (feeder club of the St George Illawarra Dragons) held off a determined Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks outfit 24-22. In the Queensland Cup the Souths Logan Magpies (feeder club of the Canberra Raiders) defeated the Easts Tigers 30-6, keeping them three points clear on top of the ladder.
Canberra Raiders 32 defeated St George Illawarra Dragons 16
National Rugby League - NRL - Round 24 - Sunday August 22, 2010 2:00pm
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Referee: Matt Cecchin and Tony De Las Heras
Video Referee: Tim Mander
Touch Judges: Steve Carrall and Luke Potter
Halftime: Canberra Raiders 0 St George Illawarra Dragons 4
Canberra Raiders (32)
Tries: Terry Campese, Joe Picker, Glen Buttriss, Josh Dugan, Daniel Vidot, Adam Mogg
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (4/6)
St George Illawarra Dragons (16)
Tries: Mark Gasnier, Brett Morris, Neville Costigan
Conversions: Jamie Soward (2/3)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Welcome to Canberra Stadium where the Raiders are set to host the Dragons in what will promise to be an entertaining game of Rugby League.
Canberra Raiders - Dane Tilse comes onto the bench, taking the position of Danny Galea.
St George/Illawarra Dragons - Beau Scott and Luke Priddis are out of the side. The vacant spot in the back row is filled by Ricky Thorby, while the vacant utility spot on the bench is filled by Nathan Fien.
Toyota Cup - The St George/Illawarra Dragons have come from 24-6 down to secure a 28-all draw with the Canberra Raiders.
Both of the sides are coming out now, we're soon to be underway.
We've kicked off!!...before the whistle.
1 min: Trevor Thurling already down, with a big tackle from Neville Costigan. Will be a Canberra Raiders penalty, and Costigan is already on report.
2 min: Alan Tongue is hit hard (legally, this time) and loses the ball.
3 min: A strip penalty here now against the Canberra Raiders. St George/Illawarra will spend most of this set in the opposition half.
4 min: Michael Weyman with a big run. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs taking a bit too long to get off the tackle and another penalty goes against the Canberra Raiders.
5 min: TRY
Brett Morris Try
The Dragons are able to spread the ball, but the Raiders outside backs move in too much and Matt Cooper enables his winger Brett Morris a free run to the line. Jamie Soward misses the sideline conversion by a fair bit.
St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
7 min: After letting Brett Morris pass him not long back, Daniel Vidot has been involved in quite a few runs this set. Now the Canberra Raiders get a repeat set, they're near the line.
8 min: Alan Tongue held up, three tackles gone. Canberra will continue. Bronson Harrison came close during the set.
9 min: Looks like St George Illawarra have made an error, saving a try.
10 min: Now Josh Dugan goes close...
10 min: The kick from Josh McCrone goes a bit too deep, after all this the Canberra Raiders won't be finishing the set with a try. Possession to the visitors.
12 min: It sounds like today could be a cliche with St George Illawarra once again aiming up in defence. Not only that, the kicking game would also be well in favour of St George Illawarra as well.
13 min: Great set from Canberra, Terry Campese makes a big break. David Shillington spills it backwards following a massive Ben Creagh shoulder charge, but Daniel Vidot has lost the ball.
15 min: So far it's easy to see we've seen the weaknesses of having Alan Tongue at hooker.
15 min: Once again, the Canberra Raiders come close, yet so far with Dean Young making a memorable try-saving tackle on Josh Dugan.
17 min: St George Illawarra getting a penalty following a sloppy play-the-ball.
18 min: Canberra Raiders on the attack again.
19 min: Joel Monaghan taken over the sideline as the attack ends.
20 min: A soft penalty against the Canberra Raiders for a high tackle. Bad call.
22 min: Canberra finally get a deserved penalty.
26 min: Canberra really starting to gain some momentum, the score remains 4-0.
27 min: Dane Tilse looses the ball near the tryline. Not the first time it's happened to Canberra.
30 min: The defence in this game is incredible. The atmosphere however...
31 min: Josh Dugan has dropped a catch, St George Illawarra with a massive chance!
32 min: Weird call, where Joel Monaghan looked to have knocked on, giving St George Illawarra another set near the line. The referee has called a turnover. Now Canberra gets a penalty, getting out of their own area.
34 min: The Raiders throw everything at the Dragons, but they still cannot get a point.
35 min: Jamie Soward's kick looks good and...it's a 40/20!
35 min: They've asked the video referee...nope. They've called it short, it's turned into a Canberra Raiders scrum. Lucky!
35 min: Now Canberra gets a penalty.
36 min: Looks like Matt Cooper has put a kick dead in a chase with Josh Dugan, so Canberra get a line drop-out.
37 min: It won't happen this time, St George Illawarra in possession.
39 min: Joel Monaghan gets the ball with twenty seconds left in the half. Loose ball now, Dragons will take it out and that is half-time.
40 min: HALF TIME
Canberra Raiders 0
St George Illawarra Dragons 4 (Brett Morris try, Jamie Soward 0/1 goals)
40 min: Second half underway.
42 min: The aggression continues. Can't see many points passing us this game.
46 min: Daniel Vidot nearly drops another kick. A penalty (alongside back chat) gets the Raiders out of their area.
47 min: Canberra have gone over through Daniel Vidot, but they're going up to the video referee to double check the grounding.
47 min: Many checks to see if he's stayed in field.
47 min: TRY
Daniel Vidot Try The Raiders have finally scored, a beautiful series of passing out wide with Daniel Vidot going over. Jarrod Croker, as you'd expect this year, kicks it beautifully and they're in front.
Canberra Raiders 6-4
48 min: Glenn Buttriss has been instrumental since he's been on the field today.
48 min: Well, Terry Campese showing his verbal skills there. Jarrod Croker tried to run it on the last, but the ball ended up over the sideline. Campese argued that it came off Jason Nightingale, and the referee found out he was indeed correct. So, here comes Canberra!
50 min: Another Raiders kick goes over the in-goal.
53 min: Raiders in position to attack again.
55 min: A collision there. Josh Dugan still down
55 min: Crowd - 20,445
56 min: TRY
Terry Campese Try Individual brilliance from Terry Campese who steps up to score under the posts. Jarrod Croker gives the Raiders that all important eight point advantage.
Canberra Raiders 12-4
58 min: Canberra may have scored again, but there could be a tackle on Darius Boyd (who didn't have the ball).
58 min: TRY
Adam Mogg Try Despite the questions asked to the video referee, he awards it as Adam Mogg swoops on the ball to score the Raiders third try of the second half. Jarrod Croker hits the upright, a rare miss for him.
Canberra Raiders 16-4
63 min: TRY
Josh Dugan Try The Dragons nearly score, instead Josh Dugan takes it and races away to score an important try! That could seal it up for the Raiders and this recent dominance over the Dragons looks to continue. Jarrod Croker has no issues with the kick.
Canberra Raiders 22-4
66 min: TRY
Joe Picker Try This is crazy now! Joe Picker gets a great pass from Jarrod Croker, who himself got a great pass from Josh McCrone. Picker runs thirty or so metres (looked like more) to score. Jarrod Croker unable to convert this one as well.
Canberra Raiders 26-4
69 min: TRY
Mark Gasnier Try Nothing controversial about this one. Matt Cooper sets the play up with a break before Gasnier beat Jarrod Croker with ease to score. Jamie Soward quickly converts.
Canberra Raiders 26-10
72 min: Neville Costigan looks to have scored, but we're off to the video referee. Amazing that not long back it was 4-0.
72 min: TRY
Neville Costigan Try Not sure if it was a double movement, but the try is awarded. Jamie Soward once again quickly converts.
Canberra Raiders 26-16
74 min: Obvious to say, Canberra struggling to finish the game here. They've got the ball for the first time in awhile.
76 min: Dragons had the ball near the Raiders line but lost it, now the Raiders are near the Dragons line.
77 min: TRY
Glen Buttriss Try The best player on the field has scored a deserved try and that will seal this up. Jarrod Croker converts once more, the margin still expanding.
Canberra Raiders 32-16
79 min: The Raiders were close to scoring again, but Jamie Soward has intercepted to stop another try being scored.
80 min: Well, Adam Mogg gave himself a chance but it went into touch and that will do.
80 min: FULL TIME
Canberra Raiders 32 (Daniel Vidot, Terry Campese, Adam Mogg, Josh Dugan, Joe Picker, Glen Buttriss tries, Jarrod Croker 4/6 goals)
St George Illawarra Dragons 16 (Brett Morris, Mark Gasnier, Neville Costigan tries, Jamie Soward 2/3 goals)