Red letter day as Dragons reverse the curse

WHETHER it was the influence of coach Paul McGregor, halfback Benji Marshall or the three tries from Brett Morris, no one will care about a Canberra hoodoo following the Dragons 34-16 win in the national capital.

McGregor was still on the Dragons playing roster the last time they won in Canberra way back in 2000 and Marshall won his fair share in his Tigers playing days when they travelled down the the Hume.

St George Illawarra even went as far as training with witch doctors in Wollongong during the week - and it worked.

Three-try hero Morris told Fox Sports the Dragons were aware of their dismal record, but remained confident in their own ability if they held onto the ball.

"We tried not to talk about it (the hoodoo), but it's nice to get a win," he said.

"We've come down here a lot of times and been very close and some of those losses have been heartbreaking."

But there would be no heartbreak today.

Gareth Widdop pulled the strings at five-eighth, Marshall had a hand in several tries and centre Josh Dugan returned to haunt his old club.

They conceded the first try in the sixth minute when Josh Papalii muscled his way through some flimsy goal-line defence, but the visitors hit straight back to reclaim the lead 10-6 midway through the first half.

The Raiders then hit back through some Anthony Milford brilliance to take a 12-10 lead to the break.

Jarrod Croker scored minutes into the second half to extend the lead to 16-10, but it then became a red-and-white procession with some remarkable tries scored by both Morris and Jason Nightingale.

"I'm just trying to copy Jase; we're trying to outdo each other," Morris laughed.

The win keeps the Dragons slim semi-final chances alive with matches against the Titans, Broncos and Knights to come in following weeks.

"We know we've got to win every game from here, but we just need to build on the momentum from today and keep winning," Morris said.


Match Details
Canberra Raiders 16 St. George Illawarra Dragons 34
Venue: GIO Stadium
Crowd: 10318
Halftime Score: Canberra Raiders 12 St. George Illawarra Dragons 10

LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Gareth Widdop
2 points - Brett Morris
1 point - Jordan Rapana

CANBERRA RAIDERS (16)
Tries: Josh Papalii, Jarrod Croker, Jordan Rapana
Field Goals:
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (2/3)
Penalty Goals:

ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS (34)
Tries: Brett Morris (3), Josh Dugan, Peter Mata'utia, Jason Nightingale (2)
Field Goals:
Conversions: Gareth Widdop (3/7)
Penalty Goals:


LeagueUnlimited.com Live Commentary

Good afternoon footy fans and welcome to the national capital for the "hoodoo game" between the Raiders and the Dragons.

TEAM CHANGES from the home side sees just the one change with Joel Edwards moving into the starting team and Matt McIlwrick moving to the bench.

TEAM CHANGES for the Dragons will see Mike Cooper into the run-on side after Ben Creagh has been ruled on. Kyle Stanley is added to the bench. Kick-off a little after 3pm.

Brett Morris leads the Dragons out onto GIO Stadium which is bathed in glorious sunshine.

They're joined by the home side, led out by Brett White in the Raiders indigenous-inspired Close the Gap round jersey. Dragons to kick off.

1: We're underway! Raiders defending the southern end of GIO Stadium.

2: The tackle count restarts after Marshall knocks on the bomb. Raiders on the attack early.

2: PENALTY Raiders. Strip the call.

3: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Raiders try,

3: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by Josh Papalii. Kick to come.

Josh Papalii crashes over alongside the posts after some terrible goal-line defence from the visitors.

4: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANBERRA RAIDERS
Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.

Croker adds the extras from close range.

5: McCrone dribbles an innocuous looking kick into touch 23m from the Dragons line. The visitors will have their first touch of the footy from the scrum.

6: PENALTY Dragons. Kennedy too slow to clear the ruck.

7: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Dragons try.

7: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Brett Morris. Kick to come.

Morris darts out of dummy half and dives over in the corner for the Dragons to hit straight back.

8: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop hits the right upright from the sideline. No goal.

9: Rein kicks across field but Lee takes the catch in the in-goal. Raiders 20m restart.

9: Gareth Widdop is receiving attention in back play after being hit in a solid tackle from Joel Edwards.

10: Milford kicks into the defence but the refs say played at. Tackle count restarts.

11: Buttriss knocks on after the pass from Boyd. Dragons scrum.

13: McCrone goes to the air with a bomb which bounces off the milk cartons and Beale mops up for the Dragons.

14: PENALTY Dragons. White too slow to clear the ruck.

15: Widdop grubbers for himself but Ropana wins the race for the Raiders and gets into the field of play.

16: Mata'utia throws the pass away and the Raiders go on the attack straight away.

17: But then Rapana is ruled to have knocked on. Dragons scrum.

18: Replays suggest it might have been a tough call on the home side.

19: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Brett Morris. Kick to come.

Morris scores his second after a slick backline move to the left. Widdop fired a pass to Mata'utia who caught and passed in the one move to send his winger over untouched.

20: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop adds the extras from out wide.

21: PENALTY Raiders. Two in the tackle when the ball came free.

22: Rapana pushes away from several Dragons defenders before he knocks on on the first tackle. Dragons scrum.

24: Widdop kicks into the in-goal and Lee jumps over the ball before racing back to the 20 for the restart.

25: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Raiders try.

25: No Try. Rein comes up with a trysaver on Vaughan. Play the ball the ruling.

25: McCrone kicks towards Billy Tupou and the Raiders knock on. Dragons scrum.

28: Another terrible kick from the Raiders rebounds off a Dragon and into one in an offside position but the referees rule play on.

29: Dugan bats Widdop's kick back to Marshall who knocks on. Raiders ball.

30: NIghtingale juggles Milford's bomb for the Dragons.

31: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by Jordan Rapana. Kick to come.

Rapana scores next to the posts after Milford presses the go button and beats Ah Mau before drawing Beale and sending his fullback on his way.

33: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANBERRA RAIDERS
Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker successful.

Croker puts the home side back in front.

35: Lee catches McCrone's bomb before he bats it back to Croker who knocks on under heavy attention from Marshall.

36: Marshall kicks in behind the line for Dugan to chase. Rapana is on his heels and the Dragons win the race to the ball but knock on.

39: Buttriss kicks for Edrick but he's nowhere to be seen. Dragons ball.

40: Widdop attempts a 40/20 but it trickles touch in-goal. Raiders restart.

40: Razzle dazzle from the Dragons brings to an end the first 40. Rapana puts a shot on Nightingale and the refs say that'll do.

40: Half-time at GIO Stadium and the Raiders lead the Dragons 12-10.

40: The Raiders head back out onto GIO Stadium. They'll kick off the second stanza.

41: The Dragons march down the field on the first three tackles and Frizell's pass to Beale would have sent him into open space but the fullback can't hang on.

42: Rapana pushes away from about five players to put the Raiders on the attack.

43: McCrone kicks into the in-goal and Morris is forced to bat the ball dead. Dragons dropout.

44: TRY CANBERRA RAIDERS
Scored by Jarrod Croker. Kick to come.

Croker scores out wide for the Raiders to extend the lead. Milford delivered a perfect cut out pass to send his centre across.

46: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION CANBERRA RAIDERS
Conversion attempt by Jarrod Croker unsuccessful.

As the rain clouds start to gather at the southern end of GIO Stadium, Croker can't add the extras.

47: McCrone's kick goes dead. Dragons restart.

48: PENALTY Dragons. Dangerous contact on Widdop following the kick.

49: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Dragons try.

49: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Josh Dugan. Kick to come.

The Raiders refuse to put Widdop on the ground and let him run 20 metres sideways before he fired a pass to Dugan to cross out near the eastern touchline.

50: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop pushes the conversion attempt across the face. No goal.

52: Widdop bombs to Morris who knocks on. Raiders ball.

55: Time called off as Morris clutches at the back of his neck.

55: PENALTY Dragons. Cornish on report for an alleged crusher tackle.

56: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Peter Mata'utia. Kick to come.

Mata'utia crosses out wide for the Dragons after De Belin, Marshall and Widdop combined to cause problems for the Raiders defence.

57: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop pulls the conversion attempt to the left of the posts. No goal.

58: PENALTY Dragons. Milford ruled to have taken a chaser out.

60: Widdop again kicks towards Morris but Tupou gets a touch. Dragons scrum.

62: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Jason Nightingale. Kick to come.

Nightingale scores in the corner for the Dragons after a brilliantly placed kick from Marshall which sailed over the top of Lee's head and into the waiting arms of the winger.

63: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop extends the lead out past a converted try with a superb sideline conversion.

66: Widdop kicks back across his body and the ball sails out on the full. Raiders ball.

67: Kennedy appears certain to score after a Cornish short pass but he spills his lollies. Dragons scrum.

68: Nightingale now loses the ball in the process of getting up. Raiders scrum 25 from the Dragons line.

70: The Raiders throw the ball around with no real purpose and the Dragons hold firm.

72: Enterprising play from the Raiders this time but the second kick is too long. Dragons restart.

72: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Dragons try.

73: No try. Dugan bounces the ball attempting to ground it and the Raiders survive for now. 20m restart to get us back underway.

73: Tupou knocks Kennedy's pass on as the home side shifted the ball from sideline to sideline. Dragons scrum on halfway.

75: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Dragons try.

75: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Brett Morris. Kick to come.

Morris scores in the corner with a super-human effort. All but his hand and the ball were in the air when downward pressure was applied.

76: SUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop successful.

Widdop puts the icing on the cake again from the sideline.

77: The short kick-off from the Raiders comes off but Croker knocks on. Dragons ball.

78: Widdop kicks into the defence but the ball rebounds into Tupou who knocks on.

79: VIDEO REFEREE: Possible Dragons try.

79: TRY ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Scored by Jason Nightingale. Kick to come.

Nightingale almost outdoes the Morris effort in the other corner with a one-handed put down.

80: UNSUCCESSFUL CONVERSION ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS
Conversion attempt by Gareth Widdop unsuccessful.

Widdop again pulls the conversion across the face. No goal.

80: Full-time at GIO Stadium and the Dragons have finally won in Canberra.

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