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Well, get your pacemakers ready Dragons fans. Although it?s only the first game of the year, it?s a familiar story for supporters of the red and white?s?and today was a perfect example of how St George Illawarra can break your heart. Maybe they should have gone with St George Hospital for sponsorship as they would surely get plenty of business out Kogarah way.
Credit is due to the Canberra Raiders who, despite going missing for the first 20 minutes of the second half, composed themselves to stave off a fight-back by the Dragons to run out 21-12 winners and replicate the sort of early season form which saw them lead the competition last year in the early rounds.
The ending might have been a lot more interesting if Trent Barrett had held a ball in the 62nd minute where it looked certain he would score, only to unceremoniously purge it from his grasp whilst trying to plant it over the line with two hands as opposed to tucking it under his right arm and falling on the ground.
Both teams made plenty of mistakes though, with Clinto Schifcofske, Ruben Wiki and Ryan O?Hara for the Raiders, and Dean Young and Luke Bailey for the Dragons being the few who could hold their heads high. Although Bailey may well have a case to answer at the judiciary for a high shot which looks a little nasty.
But for most of the game the Raiders looked solid and despite a few cobwebs, were the better team.
Leagueunlimited.com Player of the Year Awards
3 - C Schifcofske (Raiders) 2 ? R Wiki (Raiders) 1 ? D Young (Dragons)
Full match details below.
Oki Jubilee Stadium, Crowd: 12,635 Referee: Paul Simpkins Video Referee: Stephen Clark Scorers: DRAGONS 12 Tries: Young, Simmonds Goals: Riddell 1/2, Firman 1/2 defeated by RAIDERS 21 Tries: Robinson, Mogg, McClinden Goals: Schifcofske 4/6 Field Goals: Schifcofscke 1
Half time score: Raiders 15-2
By the clock:
Dragons kick-off defending the southern end of the ground. Conditions a little humid, no real breeze to speak of.
5 min: Riddell misses a shot at goal from 35m out, straight infront following a penalty to the Dragons for a high tackle on Long. Scores remain nil-all.
9 min: Riddell pots one from 25m out, hitting the post on the way through, following an offside penalty to the Saints. Dragons lead 2-0
14 min: Schifcofske lands one for the Raiders after a penalty in the play the ball. Scores 2-all.
19 min: Another goal to Schifcofske as the Raiders take a 4-2 lead. Luke Bailey placed on report for a high tackle on Luke Davico.
27 min: Penalty count high, with another one going against the Dragons for holding down. Schifcofske misses to the left and scores remain 4-2 in favour of the Raiders.
31 min: TRY - Raiders score through Michael Robinson on the wing. Canberra playing a tough game, but mistakes throughout both teams. Schifcofske misses the kick. Raiders 8 Dragons 2.
34 min: TRY - Raiders grab another opportunity, this time on the other side of the field via Adam Mogg. Seems like they've broken the back of the Saints. Schifcofske adds the extras and Canberra take a 14-2 lead.
40 min: Schifcofscke snaps a field goal from 30m out, centre-field. Takes the Raiders to a 13 point halftime lead. Canberra 15 St George Illawarra 2.
Canberra enjoying plenty of possession and making the most of it. Raiders appear composed and weather somewhat of an early storm. Dragons look flat, mistake riddled and not playing smart footy at all. This scoreline could blow-out if the Dragons aren't careful. Will be interesting to see if they can mount some sort of comeback if they manage to wrest possession away from the Raiders.
Raiders kick-off, defending the southern end of the ground. Wind has picked up to the north.
43 min: TRY - Dragons. Young storms onto a ball out on the right flank and barges over despite the attention of a few Canberra defenders. Saints look more intense bu remains to be seen if they can match it for the rest of the game. With Riddell off the field Firman takes the kick and misses. Raiders 15 Dragons 6.
55 min: TRY - Dragons. Simmonds scores on the right hand wing. Decision referred to the video ref for a green light. This game is now very much alive and becoming more entertaining. Raiders possession has been low however. Firman knocks it over from the sideline. Raiders 15 Dragons 12.
62 min: NEWS: Sensational stuff as Barrett looks set to score and take the lead, yet drops the ball over the line. Canberra appear to have lost their way a little, making errors and silly decisions.
73 min: TRY - Raiders. Mark McClinden grubbers through and regathers from 10m out to score a brilliant individual try and win the game for Canberra. Woeful error from Gasnier in the lead up to the try saw him lose the ball in an ugly, ugly fashion. Schifcofske converts and the Raiders look set at 21-12 with about 5 min to go.
76 min: NEWS - Close call for Blacklock who nearly scores off a Barrett grubber but is interfered with by Schifcofske and is awarded a penalty. A case of too little too late though.
Raiders hold off a charge from the Dragons to win their first of the year. Looked a lot more settled in the final 15 minutes of the game. Dragons slump to a poor first round loss in a game they could have done plenty more with.