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The Canberra Raiders have secured another gritty win, 18-12 over the South Sydney Rabbitohs, after once again losing a player from their 2019 Grand Final spine.
At 12-all in the 47th minute Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad left the field and did not return as he got what's been reported as a compound dislocation to his finger.
To create the match-winning try in the 54th minute, Elliott Whitehead went into dummy-half on the last tackle to deliver a short-side grubber kick that deflected up off the defence for Semi Valemi on the wing to score his first NRL try.
The Rabbitohs tested Canberra right up to full-time, pinning the home team within their own end of the field for most of the second half.
Tom Burgess came alive in the final 20 minutes with runs that bent the Raiders back. His best charge from a long goal-line dropout taking South Sydney up to 15 metres from the tryline on tackle one.
Canberra selected Jordan Rapana to replace Nicoll-Klokstad at fullback, but to make matters worse Rapana's diving effort to prevent a South Sydney try in the 70th minute required him to leave the field for a HIA.
The Rabbitohs had fullback concerns of their own, as Alex Johnston played 17 minutes before a head knock ended his night.
It was a 10-0 lead for the Raiders after 15 minutes as tries from kicks to Jarrod Croker and Bulldogs-bound Nick Cotric got them rolling.
By the 26th minute the Rabbitohs had laid on two tries of their own through Dane Gagai and Adam Reynolds.
A flick pass from Croker in his own half was a risky play that brought a Whitehead knock-on and Rabbitohs the momentum. They went through the hands with an outside shift through Cook, Walker and eventually Gagai to get in the corner.
On the restart the Raiders conceded three penalties which Jaydn Su'A used to hit a hole and pass back for Reynolds to scurry towards the posts. Reynolds converted his try to bring up 1500 career points in the NRL.
Tonight was the seventh-consecutive match the Raiders finished with a margin of eight points or less, of which they've now won four.
The injury list is ever growing for Canberra. With doubt on Nicoll-Klokstad and Rapana it's likely at least one of them will add to a casualty ward that already has Josh Hodgson, John Bateman, Curtis Scott, Sia Soliola, Corey Horsburgh, Emre Guler, Bailey Simonsson and Michael Oldfield.
NRL debutant and son of Matthew Johns, Jack Johns, was injected into the match earlier than anticipated when Johnston was forced from the field for a HIA.
In positive news for the Rabbitohs, Latrell Mitchell has served the last match of his two-game ban.
Next week the Rabbitohs visit the St George Illawarra Dragons on Thursday night at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium and the Raiders head to Queensland Country Bank Stadium for a Saturday night clash with the North Queensland Cowboys.
Canberra Raiders 18 - South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
Venue: GIO Stadium Canberra
Halftime Score: Canberra Raiders 10 South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Jack Wighton
2 points - Cameron Murray
1 points - Josh Papali'i
CANBERRA RAIDERS (18)
Tries: Nick Cotric, Jarrod Croker, Semi Valemi
Conversions: Jarrod Croker (2/3)
Penalty Goals: Jarrod Croker (1/1)
SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS (12)
Tries: Dane Gagai, Adam Reynolds
Conversions: Adam Reynolds (2/2)