Cotric sent off as Raiders run rampant against Dragons

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St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders

A Nick Cotric send-off wasn't enough to stop the Canberra Raiders from rising to third spot on the ladder with a convincing 36-14 win over the St. George Illawarra Dragons on Sunday night.

Cotric was the first player in the NRL to be sent off this year after a dangerous spear tackle on Tim Lafai. 

And after a weekend of controversial refereeing decisions, the general consensus was that this was a brave decision that the officials got right.

Past players have recently come out to announce being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) - a disease often caused by repeated head traumas.

The decision to send Cotric off signalled a potential move forward by the NRL to punish players for unnecessary head-high contact.

It didn't halt Canberra's momentum though as they went on to score two tries without Cotric.

It capped off an impressive performance from the Raiders, who skipped out to a 16-0 lead at half time. 

Three-straight penalties saw Canberra camp themselves on the opposition try line and they were quick to capitalise, Jarrod Croker kicking a penalty goal in the sixth minute.

Cotric did it all himself five minutes later when he powered past four defenders to surge over in the corner. 

Croker couldn't land the conversion from the sideline though. 

He quickly made up for it as he went over to score in the 17th minute. 

In a week of milestones, the 28-year old had one of his own, with his 121st four-pointer seeing him officially hold the record for most Raiders tries of all time.

After a fairly uneventful 20 minutes Joseph Tapine then crossed over to extend Canberra's lead to 16 points at the break. 

It quickly got ugly as the Raiders ran in two more in the space of five minutes to open the second half. 

The first came to winger Bailey Simonsson who dived over in the corner before Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad reached out moments later to extend the lead to 26.

The Dragons eventually posted their first points of the night through Korbin Sims in the 50th minute. 

And it seemed to spark them into action as Luciano Leilua burst through to reduce the deficit back to 16 points.

The game potentially turned on its head when Cotric was sent off. 

With all the momentum, it was expected the one-man overlap would play into the home side's favour.

But instead Canberra hit back, Siliva Havili powering over to seal the victory. 

Nicoll-Klokstad then strolled through for a simple try to further embarrass the home side.

Matt Dutfy raced away to score a late consolation try but it was a rare highlight in an otherwise dour night for the Wollongong faithful.

The Dragons will look to keep their top-eight hopes alive next week against Penrith while Canberra host the equally desperate Tigers.

St George Illawarra Dragons 14 - Canberra Raiders 36

Venue: WIN Stadium
Crowd: 9159
Halftime Score: St George Illawarra Dragons 0 Canberra Raiders 16 Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Hodgson
2 points - Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad
1 points - Josh Papali'i

Tries: Korbin Sims, Luciano Leilua, Matthew Dufty
Field Goals:
Conversions: Corey Norman (0/1), Timoteo Lafai (1/1), Jacob Host (0/1)
Penalty Goals:

Tries: Jarrod Croker, Nick Cotric, Joseph Tapine, Bailey Simonsson, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad (2), Siliva Havili
Field Goals:
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (3/7)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (1/1)

See how it happened in our Match Centre