In front of 19350 fans, both teams put on a show that was more than worth the price of admission, with its multiple sin-binnings, punishing defence, and exciting attack - and most of that was before half time!
Both teams came out firing, with neither team showing any concern for their own welfare as they launched themselves like missiles at their opposition.
The Dragons collected the only try of the first half in the 15th minute, when Ben Creagh batted down a cross field kick to Ben Hornby, who found Darius Boyd looping around the back who in turn found Brett Morris who spun out of a tackle for the try.
Following that, things really heated up.
Dean Young found himself in the sin bin in the 20th minute after reacting to Terry Campese throwing the ball at his head.
One minute later, and Michael Weyman found himself on the ground needing the medicab after a nasty headclash between himself and Josh Miller.
The Raiders had the one man advantage and much of the field position, but couldn't find their way through the Dragons defence, that just refused to crack.
The Raiders were getting frustrated, and that frustration came to a head when Campese was penalised for being offside in the 31st, then found himself in the bin after giving the referees a gobfull.
Just like the Raiders before them, the Dragons were unable to take advantage of the extra man, and both teams went into the sheds with the Dragons holding a slender 6 points to nil lead.
Coming out of half time, both teams were as intense as ever, however decided to let their attacking prowess do the talking, as the game opened wide up.
The Dragons extended their lead in the 43rd as Boyd collected a mid-field chip from Campeses and raced 80 metres for the try.
It didn't take much longer for the Raiders to awaken, and it was two of their youngest combining when, following a scrum win in the 47th, Josh Dugan found Jarrod Croker who stepped past Neville Costigan and palmed off Jamie Soward on his way to the line.
Three minutes later, and the Raiders were back to even-stevens after going the length of the field, with Dugan again featuring heavily, in the lead up to Daniel Vidot's try.
All the momentum was with the home side, and in the 55th minute they hit the lead for the first time when Dane Tilse collected Campese's grubber at the base of the goal posts and planted it over the line in one great motion.
The game heated up to boiling point following that try, with Justin Poore and Miller going toe to toe in the 60th, with both men being saved from the bin solely due to the fact that not one official on the field saw any punches get thrown.
Jeremy Smith wasn't so lucky though, finding himself with an early mark from the game in the 71st minute after what was deemed to be a high tackle on Croker. Smith may come under some scrutiny from the match review committee.
Tonight's result will no doubt have the Raiders faithful wondering where that sort of passion and energy has been all year, while the Dragons will be looking over their shoulder as the Bulldogs are now just two points behind them in the minor premiership race.
Canberra Raiders 24 def St George Illawarra Dragons 12
Round 23 - Saturday August 15th, 2009 07:30pm Venue: Canberra Stadium Referee: Ben Cummins & Brett Suttor
Sideline Officials: Daniel Eastwood & Luke Potter
Video Referee: Sean Hampstead Crowd: 19,350 Halftime: Canberra Raiders 0 St George Illawarra Dragons 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary Talk about the game as it happens - Raiders v Dragons forum discussion - click here!
Tonight, the Dragons will be looking to continue on their winning ways, and give themselves a four point buffer from the second placed Bulldogs in the Minor Premiership race. The Raiders, being no chance of making the finals, will be looking to restore some pride and give their local faithful a show to enjoy.
Team changes are as follows: RAIDERS: Joel Monaghan has been ruled out. Joel Thompson shifts from second row to centre, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs comes into the starting back row, and Trever Thurling is the new man on the bench. DRAGONS: The Dragons have lost both their centres, with Matt Cooper injured and Beau Scott suspended. Neville Costigan and Chase Stanley are the new centre pairing, with Dan Hunt coming off the bench to lock the scrum, and Nick Emmett and Jon Green rounding out the team.
RAIDERS: 1. Josh Dugan 2. Daniel Vidot 3. Jarrod Croker 11. Joel Thompson 5. Phil Graham 6. Terry Campese 7. Josh McCrone 8. Dane Tilse 9. Alan Tongue (c) 10. Scott Logan 14. Tom Learoyd-Lahrs 12. Bronson Harrison 13. Josh Miller Interchange: 15. Travis Waddell 16. Troy Thompson 17. Joe Picker 18. Trevor Thurling DRAGONS: 1. Darius Boyd 2. Brett Morris 13. Neville Costigan 16. Chase Stanley 5. Wendell Sailor 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby (c) 8. Justin Poore 9. Nathan Fien 10. Michael Weyman 11. Dean Young 12. Ben Creagh 14. Dan Hunt Interchange: 15. Jeremy Smith 17. Jarrod Saffy 18. Nick Emmett 21. Jon Green
There's a big crowd on hand, with many a Dragons fan having travelled down for this game.
Both teams are out on field, stay tuned here on LeagueUnlimited.com as kickoff is just moments away!
0 min: And we're underway! Dragons to get first use of the ball, and they almost let it bounce over the dead ball line.
1 min: PENALTY - Raiders: The home side get the first penalty of the game and the crowd roars. Canberra on the Dragons 20.
2 min: A jolting tackle under the ribcage by Costigan has forced Learoyd-Lahrs to spill the ball.
6 min: Soward kicked early, attempting a 40/20 but Dugan was wide awake to it and collected the ball before it bounced over the sideline.
10 min: Costigan unloaded the ball to an unsuspecting Sailor who spills it just 25 out from his own line. Another excellent opportunity for the Raiders.
11 min: PENALTY - Raiders: Young strips the ball out with three in the tackle. The Dragons have another set of defence ahead of them.
12 min: McCrone tries to thread a ball through but it's pounced upon by Hornby, and now the Dragons have received a much needed penalty to get them out of their own end.
15 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Dragons Try... After withstanding a few high pressure sets in defence, the Dragons have gone down the other end of the field and looked to have scored the opening points, just checking to see whether Creagh has knocked the ball on.
15 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Soward put up a cross field kick on the last, which was batted down by Creagh, collected by Hornby and fired out to Boyd who looped around and found Morris who spun his way out of a tackle and over the line. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward unsuccessful. St George Illawarra Dragons 4-0
17 min: PENALTY - Raiders: Another piggy-back penalty for the Raiders, and they now have an opportunity to hit straight back after the try.
20 min: BIFF: Campese gave away a penalty for obstruction, and copped a shoulder from Young on the way through. Campese threw the ball at Young, to which Young replied with a flurry of fists at Campese's face. The penalty against Campese stands, however Young has been sent to the bin for ten.
20 min: Josh Miller has flown out of the line and delivered a massive head clash on Michael Weyman, who is down on the ground and hasn't moved an inch, very reminiscant of Jarad Hickey last night for the Bulldogs.
20 min: Both teams join the crowd in applause as Weyman is now lifted onto the medicab and driven off the field.
22 min: Soward saves the day for the Dragons again as he drops back to clean up the fifth tackle grubber.
23 min: PENALTY - Raiders: Hornby only has eyes for Vidot and knocks him out of the contest for the high ball on the last tackle. Fresh set of six for the Raiders in the Dragons red zone.
24 min: Harrison looks to have lost the ball, but it's ruled to have been knocked on by Stanley. Yet another set coming up for the Raiders.
26 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Raiders Try... Scott Logan has planted the ball, just checking for a knock on from Dugan.
26 min: NO TRY - 20 metre restart The Dragons only have 12 men out there, but it's almost as if they have 30 - the Raiders simply can't find a way through the line. And now they've given away a penalty, so the Dragons have the ball on the Raiders 30 on tackle 2.
29 min: ATTEMPTED PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons Boyd gets fouled in a tackle, and Soward lines up to take the kick at goal, that he's hooked to the right of the posts. St George Illawarra Dragons 4-0
31 min: SIN BIN: Just as the Dragons get Young back, the Raiders lose Campese for giving the ref a gobfull after being penalised for inside the ten. Soward to have another attempt at goal.
31 min: PENALTY GOAL St George Illawarra Dragons
St George Illawarra Dragons 6-0
33 min: PENALTY - Raiders: Smith lifts a knee in the tackle, and the Raiders find themselves down the Dragons end yet again, and yet again fail to come up with any points.
37 min: Costigan sends Soward on a long run down the far touchline, before finding Boyd in support who gets bundled into touch by Graham.
39 min: Costigan has been left behind the line with a possible injury to his hip, but recovered in time to deliver a massive hit on Croker that sent the young Raider flying backwards.
HALF TIME Wow, what a game. Two players binned, one carried off on the medicab. Massive hits in defence, enterprising and exciting attacking raids, yet there's only been one try. This is semi finals football come early, and it's a shame that only one of these teams will be featuring in September. There's been enough action in his high-intensity game to fill an entire highlights reel, and the best thing is there's still 40 minutes to go! If the second half is anything like the first, then go to the toilet, get a drink and some munchies, and set yourself here on LeagueUnlimited.com for the continuation of the most exciting club match all season!
Stay tuned, the second half is not too far away!
40 min: Strap yourselves in, as we're back underway!
41 min: Campese has returned to the field following a somewhat subdued start to the second period.
43 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons Campese continues the poor last tackle options for the Raiders, as he chips over the top for McCrone but the ball floats too far into the hands of Boyd who takes advantage of the broken line, racing 80 metres for the try. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 12-0
46 min: Ominous signs here for the Raiders, as the Dragons start to string some offloads together, and almost break through only for Saffys pass to find the ground where Vidot collects and immediately goes on the counter attack.
47 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Following a scrum win, Dugan fires the ball early to Croker who does it all himself, spinning out of Costigans attempt, then fending off Soward in a 30 metres dash for the line. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. St George Illawarra Dragons 12-6
50 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Well, after the Dragons posted first points in the second half and things started to look a bit ugly for the Raiders, in the space of three minutes the Raiders have posted back to back tries to give Campese a chance to level this game up. Vidot's try coming off some fantastic lead-up work by Dugan, who managed to spin out of about three attempted tackles before finding Thompson who found Dugan who found the corner. Campese's attempt at goal hits the upright and goes over! Conversion attempt by successful. 12 all
53 min: A tough, tough call against the Raiders here as they get penalised for dragging Sailor back to the in-goal after the tackle was complete, when replays show there was always momentum in the tackle.
55 min: VIDEO REF - Possible Raiders Try... Tilse is claiming the four pointer, just checking for possible obstruction and grounding.
55 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Campese threads a grubber through that comes to a stop at the bottom of the upright, where it is collected and planted in the in-goal in one fantastic motion by Tilse. Conversion attempt by Terry Campese successful. Canberra Raiders 18-12
60 min: BIFF: As Campese put another poor grubber through on the last, we see Poore and Miller going at in in backplay after Poore tackled Miller without the ball. None of the referees saw any punches thrown, and as such have only awarded a penalty to the Raiders, however replays show many punches being thrown.
60 min: PENALTY GOAL Canberra Raiders
Canberra Raiders 20-12
63 min: A torpedo punt from Soward has dipped at the last second, forcing Dugan to knock the ball on 20 out from his own line.
67 min: Great set from the Raiders as they come from their own goal line down the the Dragons 35, where Campese drills the ball into touch to give his chargers a well earned rest.
68 min: A poor pass from Stanley has given possession back to the Raiders in great field position.
69 min: McCrone drills the ball into the in-goal where it is collected and taken dead by Boyd. Following the drop out Learoyd Lahrs winds up and charges back at the defensive line at full pelt.
71 min: BIFF: It's on once again, this time Jeremy Smith looks to be the instigator. Picker has been called out and cautioned by the ref. Smith has been called out and been sent to the bin for a high shot. Replays show Croker standing in the tackle of Hunt, and just as he's about to play the ball Smith launches himself in with a stiff arm over the top.
72 min: PENALTY GOAL Canberra Raiders
Canberra Raiders 22-12
74 min: Sowrd tries a mid field grubber for himself, but Dugan attacks the ball then puts himself in top gear, weaving in and out of defenders before eventually being brought down five out from the line.
77 min: PENALTY GOAL Canberra Raiders
Canberra Raiders 24-12
78 min: Waddell broke through the line and had visions of going the length of the field, however gets called back for an obstruction. Dragons will have one chance to make the score more respectable.
FULL TIME It's full time here, and in a major boilover the Canberra Raiders have held strong their home record against the Dragons, taking them down 24 points to 12.