The Canberra Raiders put a week of negatives behind them as they marked their return to GIO Stadium with a 22-16 victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons on Friday evening.
It seemed as though the Raiders were going to cruise to victory up 22-0 in the second half before the Dragons gave their opponents a scare by scoring three tries inside the final 20 minutes.
Halfback George Williams celebrated his first NRL career try for the Green Machine while co-captain Jarrod Croker scored his first four-pointer of the year with the Canberrans fourth try.
Coach Ricky Stuart would’ve been biting his fingernails during the latter phases of the second period but he was able to breathe a sigh of relief once the full-time whistle blew – the win was his 200th as a coach in the NRL.
The win sees the Raiders finish Round 8 in sixth spot on the ladder, quite an achievement given injuries to Sia Soliola, Emre Gule and Elliott Whitehead.
First of the year for the Skipper!
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) July 3, 2020
Out of form centre Curtis Scott’s absence from the starting line up made headlines throughout the week, but the 22-year-old made a cameo appearance during the second half as Stuart looks to ease him slowly back into finding the form he showcased earlier in the year.
In attack, the Raiders spread the ball a lot more and it paid dividends when Nick Cotric bulldozed his way over Dragons fullback Matthew Dufty in the corner for the game’s first try.
It will be interesting over the next few weeks to see how the Raiders fare in the middle of the park seeing the amount of damage they have absorbed in that area. The injuries are starting to mount.
You would think for next round’s clash against the Melbourne Storm that Josh Papalii will return to the starting 13 and it will be interesting to see if Stuart leaves Scott on the interchange bench again against his former club.
I think it is important the Raiders don’t rush Scott back too quickly as there is still plenty of time to rebuild his confidence.
Canberra Raiders 22 – 16 St George Illawarra Dragons
Raiders tries: Cotric, Simonsson, Williams, Croker. Conversions: Croker (3).
Dragons tries: Dufty (2), Lomax Conversions: Lomax (2).
Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Bailey Simonsson, 3. Jarrod Croker (C), 4. Michael Oldfield, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 15. Emre Guler, 9. Josh Hodgson (C), 10. Sia Soliola, 11. Hudson Young, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 16. Ryan Sutton.
Substitutes: 8. Josh Papalii, 13. Joe Tapine, 14. Curtis Scott, 17. Siliva Havili.
Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty, 2. Jason Saab, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Zac Lomax, 5. Mikaele Ravalawa, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Adam Clune, 8. Blake Lawrie, 9. Cameron McInnes (C), 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 12. Tyrell Fuimaono, 13. Trent Merrin.
Substitutes: 14. Ben Hunt, 15. Josh Kerr, 16. Korbin Sims, 17. Jackson Ford.