The Canberra Raiders are back in the winners circle for the first time in five weeks, taking advantage of a lion's share of possession to see themselves to a 10-point victory over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at GIO Stadium.
The first half was an incredibly one-sided affair, with plenty of Bulldogs errors gifting the Raiders enough field position to win five matches. The Canterbury defence held firm however, forcing Nick Cotric to commit a double movement.
It looked as if the Bulldogs would somehow get themselves on the board first in the resultant set, with Matt Burton getting through the line far too easily before linking up with Josh Addo-Carr in support, who cruised to the line. The try was awarded, but the bunker intervened and correctly ruled that Corey Waddell obstructed Adam Elliott in the lead-up.
The call gave the Raiders yet another set on the Bulldogs line, and this time they took full advantage, with English back-rower Elliott Whitehead winding up from 15 metres out to cruise past Aaron Schoupp on his way to the line. The conversion attempt from Croker was unsuccessful, making it a 4-0 ballgame after 20 minutes.
The Bulldogs turned in some strong defensive efforts and were able to win back some field position, but a poor pass from Flanagan to Naden in the 31st minute relieved all the pressure.
In the ensuing set, Matt Frawley was able to take advantage of some pathetically soft Bulldogs defence. First, he took on the Dogs front-line, easing his way past Jeremy Marshall-King, before selling Matt Dufty a dummy to no one, and he was over the line virtually untouched from 20-odd metres out.
The Raiders would take a 10-0 lead into the break, but their fans were far from confident considering the club's recent history of squandering half-time advantages.
For a while in the second half, it appeared Raiders fans' nightmares were materialising once again. They had the bulk of possession and field position from the 40th-50th minute, but were only able to put two points on the board courtesy of a penalty goal.
Five minutes later the Raiders forced a dropout, and with 25 minutes to go it appeared they were finally closing out a match in mature fashion. However, Burton went short on the drop kick and it was recovered by Naden. Two tackles later, Burton put in an early kick for Addo-Carr, who gathered in the ball and put in another kick that was again recovered by the Dogs, who all of a sudden were only 10 metres away from the Raiders line and looking dangerous.
When Matt Burton muscled his way over in that same set, even the most staunch Raiders fan was dreading the next 20 minutes.
Five minutes later, the defining moment of the match came when Addo-Carr was unable to ground Burton's kick in the in-goal area, instead knocking it on. It proved to be an 8-point turnaround when the next Raiders possession resulted in another penalty goal, giving us the eventual final scoreline of 14-4.
Next week is Magic Round, where the Bulldogs will open things up on Friday evening against the Knights, while the Raiders will tackle the Sharks on Sunday afternoon.