Canberra Raiders did it tough but arrested their slide in a 20-18 success against Canterbury Bulldogs this afternoon at Lang Park to start day two of Magic Round.
Second half fades had haunted the Canberra Raiders this season but two late tries to Sebastian Kris and Curtis Scott after the Raiders were reduced 12 men after Josh Papali'i's send off gave them a first win in six weeks to move into tenth.
The Raiders were clunky but looked assured in the first half. Corey Harawira-Naera came back to haunt his former club with the opener after some impressive work from George Williams and Caleb Aekins. Williams added a further penalty goal to make it 8-nil at the interval.
It looked like the game was going to the script after the resumption. Nick Cotric found the line against his old club to make it 8-6 as the Raiders found the self destruct button. Nick Meaney put the Bulldogs ahead 12-8 after his line run and Ricky Stuart must've thought he was in Groundhog Day.
His headache only intensified as Josh Papali'i, trying to fire up his head made direct contact with the head and was sent off. From there, the Dogs should've closed out the contest but again, they showed a lack of smarts with errors, penalties and set restarts gave the Raiders life.
Given the opportunity, the Raiders put together some slick work to take the lead back despite being reduced to 12. Curtis Scott steamed onto the ball to level the scores then a fantastic kick from Williams put the Green Machine ahead.
It looked at times, the Raiders were the side with 13 as they stripped the numbers again to put them ahead 20-12. Sebastian Kris found the four-pointer after a quick interchange of passes to breath new life into a season which was rapidly fading for the Raiders.
Canterbury once again will wonder how they conspired to lose that. The Bulldogs showed glimpses of promising attack but it was rare between their errors and poor finishes to sets which never gave them a chance in the first half and a lack of composure after the Papali'i send off to see the game out.
Once again, the big talking point will be the new interpretation of the dangerous contact rule. Canberra had Jack Wighton sin-binned for his cannonball tackle while Josh Papali'i was the first to be sent off after his direct contact to the head. After three games, there has been nine bins and one send off as players adjust to the new normal in the National Rugby League in 2021.