LeagueUnlimited NRL Teams - 2020 Round 20
46 hours ago | LeagueUnlimited Media
A determined Raiders side has held out a relentless Rabbitohs outfit 16-10 to book their first appearance in the big dance since 1994.
Only twelve months ago, the Canberra Raiders were conceding over 22 points a game.
It generally wasn't considered much of an issue though because they could score more than they let in.
But the Raiders of 2019 are a different breed. They have built their success off their work without the ball in hand.
And it was fitting that they qualified for their first grand final in 25 years off the back of a sensational effort on their own line, repelling a persistent Rabbitohs outfit.
Souths threatened to break the hearts of a sell-out Canberra crowd late when Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was sin-binned in the 68th minute with the result well and truly still in the balance.
But like they had all game, the Raiders stood tall and defender their line like their lives depended on it before Josh Papalii crashed over to send the majority of the almost 27,000 fans at GIO Stadium into delirium.
Papalii enjoyed one of the most dominant individual performances of the year, running for 179 metres and scoring the match-winning try.
And each run was quality, dragging defenders with him while the constant threat of offload kept them in two minds.
It is the second-straight year Souths have exited in the preliminary finals while the loss also brings an end to the great career of club legend John Sutton.
Canberra opened the scoring through Jarrod Croker, the centre pouncing after Corey Allan couldn't clean up a dangerous kick on his own line.
Souths eventually hit back though as they crossed off a simple scrum spread through Dane Gagai.
A bit of individual brilliance from Jack Wighton put Canberra back in the lead shortly after the break before Papalii sealed it late, not before withstanding a barrage of sets on their own line.
Campbell Graham sliced over in the final minute but it mattered little, Canberra through to play either the Storm or Roosters in the decider next week.
Canberra Raiders 16 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 10
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
Halftime Score: Canberra Raiders 6 South Sydney Rabbitohs 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Josh Papali'i
2 points - Josh Hodgson
1 points - Jack Wighton
CANBERRA RAIDERS (16)
Tries: Jarrod Croker, Jack Wighton, Josh Papalii
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (0/1)
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (10)
Tries: Dane Gagai, Campbell Graham
Conversions: Adam Reynolds (1/2)