The Canberra Raiders have put the top eight on notice with a convincing 19-12 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons in Wollongong today.
Running into a strong wind in the first half, the Raiders withstood an early Dragons onslaught to score the opening try in the 14th minute. Playing against his old club, Raiders winger Colin Best made a sensational 70 metre burst downfield, brushing aside several defenders on the way.
This set the tone for the match with the Raiders running in two more tries to post a handy 14-0 lead at half time.
Canberra went further ahead soon after the break with winger Adrian Purtell scoring his second try to make it 18-0.
The Dragons were able to claw their way back in the 51st minute to make it 18-6, and defended well enough not to concede another try for the match.
But the Raiders were not to be denied, a Todd Carney field goal nine minutes from full time putting the match beyond doubt.
A late consolation try to the Dragons in the final minute, and a sideline conversion from half back Jamie Soward, brought up the final score line.
The result sees the fifth-placed Dragons end their seven match winning streak, while the 12th-placed Raiders are just one point outside of the top eight.
Match Details Canberra Raiders 19 def St George Illawarra Dragons 12 Round 18 - Sunday July 13th, 2008 2:00pm Venue: WIN Stadium Referee: Tony De Las Heras Touch Judges: Mohamad Fajajo, Peter Kirby Video Referee: Graeme West Half time: Raiders 14-0 Crowd: 14,040
St George Illawarra Dragons 12 Tries: Josh Morris, Brett Morris Goals: Jamie Soward (2/2) Canberra Raiders 19 Tries: Colin Best, Dane Tilse, Adrian Purtell (2) Field Goals: Todd Carney (1/1) Goals: Todd Carney (1/4)
LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Match 3 Points: David Milne (Raiders) 2 Points: Trevor Thurling (Raiders) 1 Point: Adrian Purtell (Raiders)
LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary
DRAGONS: 1. Brett Morris 2. Jason Nightingale 3. Mark Gasnier 4. Matt Cooper 5. Josh Morris 6. Jamie Soward 7. Ben Hornby 8. Justin Poore 9. Dean Young 10. Jason Ryles 11. Beau Scott 12. Chase Stanley 13. Lagi Setu Interchange: 14. Kirk Reynoldson 15. Dan Hunt 16. Jarrod Saffy 17. Rangi Chase; Reserves: 18. Matt Prior 19. Stuart Webb RAIDERS: 1. David Milne 2. Colin Best 3. Marshall Chalk 4. Joel Monaghan 5. Adrian Purtell 6. Terry Campese 7. Todd Carney (c) 8. Troy Thompson 9. Glen Buttriss 10. Dane Tilse 11. Glen Turner 12. Josh Miller 13. Joe Picker Interchange: 14. Nigel Plum 15. Ryan Hinchcliffe 16. Scott Logan 17. Michael Weyman; Reserves: 18. Neville Costigan 19. Trevor Thurling
The red-hot St George Illawarra Dragons will aim to equal their biggest winning streak when they take on the Canberra Raiders at WIN Stadium this afternoon. The Dragons, who have won their last seven games in a row, are just a solitary victory away from their 2005 feat but come up against a Canberra team they have traditionally struggled against - winning only one of their last eight games.
The Dragons will welcome back the superstar centre-pairing of Mark Gasnier and Matt Cooper, to field a near full strength team. All eyes will be on Gasnier, as the Australian representative has been under constant media scrutiny in recent weeks. His playing future in the NRL looking unlikely beyond this season with big money offers coming from rugby union in France.
The Canberra side will be pleased with the late inclusions of inspirational captain Alan Tongue who suffered a rib injury in his teams defeat to Cronulla in round 16, and former Origin player Neville Costigan. The Green Machine, whose away form has been poor all season, will go in to the game with confidence knowing they have beaten the Dragons already this season in 21-14 victory in Canberra. However they haven't won at WIN Stadium since 1995.
Expect a big crowd as the Dragons play in front of the Wollongong faithful for just the fourth time this season. Last year's corresponding fixture saw St George Illawarra heavily defeat Caberra 58-16.
Kick off at 2pm.
1 min: Play is underway at a chilly WIN Stadium as Canberra kick off into a stiff breeze
5 min: Both teams looking impressive in attack as Dragons begin set on Raiders 30 metre line
7 min: VIDEO REF - NO TRY. After Milne knocks the ball on, on his own goal lline, Jarrod Saffy also coughs the ball up within inches of the try line. Dragons back on the attack.
9 min: Raiders survive another Dragons attacking raid and as reward gain a piggy-back penalty.
12 min: In the windy conditions, both teams are looking to test the opposition wingers under the high-ball.
14 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Brilliant individual effort from Colin Best. After catching Matt Cooper out of position, Best streaked down the left hand touch line, swerving around Gasnier and fending off Soward to score the 70 metre solo effort. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 4-0
17 min: TRY Canberra Raiders An offload from Glen Turner 20 metres out back into the supporting hands of Dane Tilse, sees the big forward carry over a Dragons defender next to the upright and score the Raiders second try of the game. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney successful. Canberra Raiders 10-0
24 min: TRY Canberra Raiders The Raiders are on fire as they score their third try of the game. Nice Canberra backline play through the hands, sees the Dragons defence in tatters as they rush up, resulting in Purtell crashing over. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 14-0
30 min: Penalty to the Dragons as the 'Gong faithful get vocal.
31 min: Another miserable end to the Dragons set with Hornby's grubber spilling over the dead ball line
33 min: Canberra ferocious in defence as the Dragons turn over the ball once again.
36 min: Dragons causing headaches for Nathan Brown as another attempted off-load goes astray. Canberra on attack
37 min: Controversial call from the ref who disallowed a potential try from Purtell by ruling his body was in touch before grounding the ball
39 min: Dragons just holding on with Canberra playing some exciting footy.
HALF TIME: Perfect field conditions has meant an up-tempo game. Canberra have taken full advantage of this, using the ball as often as they can. Raiders backs Colin Best, Adrian Purtell and Joel Monaghan have been given plenty of space to use the footy and at times have carved up their Dragons counterparts. For the Dragons it's been a half of lackluster defence, not taking their opportunities on attack and not making use of the strong wind behind them. The Raiders are playing determined footy, desperate to stay in touch with the 8, the Dragons should take note of this as their performance so far is down on heart and passion.
42 min: TRY Canberra Raiders Canberra start the second stanza beautifully with a great team try. Purtell dotting down for his 10th try of the season. With Hornby knocking the ball on with his teams first set of the half, the Raiders were able to counter-attack through Milne and Thurling. The ball was then catered out to Purtell's wing, who raced away to score. Conversion attempt by Todd Carney unsuccessful. Canberra Raiders 18-0
49 min: The Dragons get their first attacking chance of the second half after being gifted a penalty.
51 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons The Dragons score their first points of the match with a Josh Morris benefit of the doubt try. Rangi Chase's grubber from dummy half ends up in the hands of the already grounded Morris. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. Canberra Raiders 18-6
55 min: Stupidity from Jason Ryles as he tries to offload the ball coming out of his own half, losing the ball in the process.
57 min: Relief for Dragons fans with Marshall Chalk dropping the ball on with the try line wide open.
59 min: Strong try-saving tackle from Joel Monaghan on Josh Morris, where the Dragons had two man overlap.
64 min: A Trevor Thurling charge down and regather leads to the big forward racing 50 metres before being brought down agonizingly short of the try line by a Josh Morris tackle. Thurling loses the ball in the tackle.
67 min: Lagi Setu held up over the Raiders goal line. Repeat set for the Dragons.
68 min: Unenterprising set from the Dragons ends in a 20 metre restart for Canberra after a below average kick from Ben Hornby. Time is running out for the Dragons.
71 min: FIELD GOAL Canberra Raiders Todd Carney extends his teams lead to 13 as he slots a field goal from 22 metres out. Canberra Raiders 19-6
73 min: Another dumb penalty from Jason Ryles puts the Raiders back into the Dragons half.
76 min: The ball game all but over as the local Dragons fans head to the turnstiles.
78 min: Story of the game for the Dragons as Soward knocks the ball on with no Raiders players near him.
80 min: TRY St George Illawarra Dragons A nice consolation try to Brett Morris set up by Gasnier standing Campese up and passing back inside to the supporting Morris. Too little, too late for the Dragons. Conversion attempt by Jamie Soward successful. Canberra Raiders 19-12
FULL TIME: A Clinical performance from the Canberra Raiders sees them come away with a seven point win. This was their first win on Wollongong soil since 1995.