The Canberra Raiders have had to fight their way from beyond a converted try behind to take a 34-20 victory over the Canterbury Bulldogs.
In what was a game of two very different halves, It was the Bulldogs who left many stunned when they were able to open the scoring through Dallin Watene-Zelezniak when the Raiders defence tried to jam in the Bulldogs attack unsuccessfully.
The Raiders who were denied the first potential points of the game, then were able to hit back twice in quick succession. The first effort for the Raiders came through Joseph Tapine was able to get through some fragile defence around the middle of the Bulldogs which saw him step off his left and dive over. The Bulldogs fans were no doubt going to be worried the floodgates had opened when Will Hopoate made a mess of a George Williams bomb which saw Williams collect the ball before he found Tom Starling who scored under the sticks.
An eleven-minute burst from the Bulldogs put themselves back into the game when Raymond Faitala-Mariner got Canterbury back to within two points when he got the green lights of the bunker after forcing his way through the line. The Bulldogs got their way over again just two minutes before half-time when Josh Jackson was able to be in the right spot when he was able to take a Kerrod Holland tap back and the captain got his way over the line.
The Bulldogs left everyone speechless for their final try of the half when Kieran Foran kick ended up back with the Bulldogs before Lachlan Lewis found DWZ who in turn found Kerrod Holland who put in a second and then third kick and got his way to the ball and ground it. The subsequent conversion from Nick Meaney gave the Bulldogs a 20-12 half-time lead.
The hopes of a better start to the second half for the Raiders after their poor finish to the first half were quickly diminished when Raiders hooker Tom Starling was sent to the sin bin by referee Chris Butler after the Raiders conceded three set restarts in quick succession as well as a penalty which saw Starling binned.
The sin bin period ended up being a positive one for the Raiders who managed to erase their eight-point deficit and end the 10-minute period in the lead. Jack Wighton was the man to thank for both the Raiders tries during this period with Wighton running at the line and going through to score.
Any hopes of another comeback from the Bulldogs were evaporated when Hudson Young got his way over the line thanks to some soft hands from Josh Papali'i and the Raiders extended their lead.
The Raiders dashed any hopes of a late comeback for the Bulldogs inside the final 10 minutes when the Bulldogs defensive efforts took their toll when Tom Starling went over straight from dummy half to score. Jarrod Croker's conversion pushed the Raiders out to the 14-point margin.
Next weekend, the Canberra Raiders will have a big task up against the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night whilst the Bulldogs take on the Titans on Saturday afternoon.