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In front of a vocal Rabbitohs crowd the Raiders had to fight every step of the way against a determined Rabbitohs side who finished the first half well in front of the Raiders but a sternum injury to five eighth John Sutton limited the Bunnies attacking options in the second half.
Joe Williams was unable to lead the Rabbitohs to victory over the Raiders, who were looking for only their second win at Aussie Stadium in their last 18 outings. The Raiders fought back from a half time deficit and injuries to key players including Michael Weyman, Lincoln Withers and Matt Adamson, with Adamson not returning.
Jason Smith was instrumental in leading the Raiders to victory with his last tackle options giving the Raiders plenty of opportunities to close out the match but some great desperation defence by the Bunnies on several occasions saved the score line from getting too far beyond their reach.
The Raiders sit firmly in second place behind the undefeated Seas Eagles while the Rabbitohs sit just outside the eight on for and against and face a tough match against the Warriors next weekend while the Raiders host the Dragons who are still looking for their first win in 2005.
Clinton Schifcofske was off with the boot today but proved to be more than a handful for the Rabbitohs while Kris Kahler led the way up front with many barnstorming runs while for Souths, Shane Walker was always a danger out of dummy half and John Sutton up until his injury was the best player on the field. Wily veterans Jason Smith and Bryan Fletcher also had excellent games with both players scoring tries today.
Scorers: RABBITOHS 18 Tries: Hookey, Fletcher, Cusack Goals: Williams 3/3 RAIDERS 25 Tries: Graham, J Smith, Croker, Hodgson, Schifcofske Goals: Schifcofske 2/5, FG
Aussie Stadium, Crowd: TBA Referee: Jason Robinson / Steve Lyons
By the clock:
1st min: Welcome to the Easter Monday clash between the Rabbitohs and the Raiders from Aussie Stadium. A good crowd is on hand to support watch promises to be a great game. Some milestones of note with Adam Macdougall and Ashley Harrison both playing their 100th first grade game in the NRL.
5th min: TRY - Raiders. Phil Graham crosses in the corner after a great start to the game from both sides. Some real flowing end to end action to start this match. Conversion unsuccessful. Raiders 4-0.
14th min: TRY - Rabbitohs. Lee Hookey scores a contentious try after Adam Macdougall made a long break and sent Hookey over for the spoils. Conversion successful. Rabbitohs 6-4.
17th min: TRY - Rabbitohs. Bryan Fletcher crosses for the Rabbitohs second try as they make the Raiders pay for undisciplined play. Conversion successful. Rabbitohs 12-4.
34th min: TRY - Raiders. Jason Smith scores out wide as the Raiders get back into the match but the game has been very spite filled to this point and the officiating questionable at best with Michael Weyman leaving the field concussed by Scott Logan with a blatant forearm to the head. Conversion successful. Rabbitohs 12-10.
HALF TIME: The Rabbitohs hold a slender two point lead over the Raiders who have been decimated by injury with Matt Adamson, Michael Weyman and Lincoln Withers all off the field injured. Canberra have done well to hang in there on the back of an 8-2 penalty count in Souths favour. The second half should be a cracking forty minutes.
41st min: Kickoff! We are underway for the second half of the final match of round three.
45th min: TRY - Raiders. Jason Croker runs out of dummy half with his sheer power too much for the Rabbitohs defenders to handle. Conversion unsuccessful. Raiders 14-12.
52nd min: TRY - Rabbitohs. Peter Cusack scores after Matt Gafa makes a meal of an easy pick up in the in goal. A very costly error. Conversion successful. Rabbitohs 18-14.
59th min: TRY - Raiders. Michael Hodgson scores off a great inside ball from Jason Smith who is directing play beautifully. Conversion successful. Raiders 20-18.
64th min: TRY - Raiders. Clinton Schifcofske scores a crucial try to extend the Raiders lead with just over fifteen minutes remaining. Conversion unsuccessful. Raiders 24-18.
72nd min: FIELD GOAL - Raiders. Clinton Schifcoske extends the Raiders lead to seven with seven remaining. Raiders 25-18.
FULL TIME: The Canberra Raiders have won a hard fought contest against the Rabbitohs, holding on to win by seven points but full credit to the Bunnies who played the game tough and hard and will give plenty of teams a fright in 2005.
----------------------------------------- Leagueunlimited.com players of the match: 3 - Clinton Schifcofske (Raiders) 2 - Shane Walker (Rabbitohs) 1 - Kris Kahler (Raiders) -----------------------------------------