A brace of tries from Jordan Rapana has seen the Canberra Raiders extend their run of dominance over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs with a 34-30 victory in the opening match of Magic Round on Friday evening.
Posting their seventh win in succession over the Bulldogs dating back to 2018, the Raiders were made to wait until the final play of a high scoring contest before claiming victory in front of 41,462 supporters at Suncorp Stadium.
Getting off to a dream start with points inside the opening 60 seconds, Rapana (1st minute) leapt above his opposing winger to cross for his fourth try of the season following a well-timed bomb from Jamal Fogarty.
Responding after Reed Mahoney nailed his fourth 40/20 in blue and white colours, the Bulldogs hooker delivered a superb pass which saw Jacob Preston (10th minute) crash over from close range.
In a game-defining passage that saw the Raiders post three straight tries midway through the half, returning winger Xavier Savage (16th minute), centre Matt Timoko (20th minute) and second-rower Hudson Young (23rd minute) took the score from 6-all to 22-6 in the space of seven minutes.
Getting back into the contest with attacking opportunities in good field position of their own, well-placed grubbers from Josh Reynolds and Matt Burton allowed Preston (27th minute) and Jake Averillo (33rd minute) to narrow the margin to four points at the change of ends.
Beginning the second half as they did the first with a try to Rapana (44th minute) in the opening stages, the Raiders were left to rue a missed opportunity with Emre Guler crossing underneath the posts only for Jack Wighton's pass to be ruled forward.
Temporarily going beyond two converted tries after Jarrod Croker (57th minute) crossed close to the hour mark, the Bulldogs refused to concede and were rewarded with Averillo (62nd minute) combining with Jacob Kiraz to capitalise on a towering bomb from Burton.
A late penalty goal from Croker appeared to give the Raiders breathing space, however a late penalty try to Hayze Perham (77th minute) set up a grandstand finish after Ata Mariota tackled the Bulldogs fullback off the ball with the try line in sight.
The Raiders stood firm on the final play of the game with Rapana holding his nerve in the face of Burton's boot to secure the side's fourth win in succession.
Next week, the Bulldogs face the Warriors on Friday evening at home, while the Raiders return to Canberra on Saturday night to host the Eels.