-Mitch Bourke reviews Canberra’s thumping win over St George Illawarra. Here’s how the game went.
|16th||Try Cody Ramsey (Dragons)||Dragons 4-0|
|19th||Try Hudson Young (Raiders)||Scores tied 4-4|
|20th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 6-4|
|24th||Try Jack Wghton (Raiders)||Raiders 10-4|
|26th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 12-4|
|35th||Try Cody Ramsey (Dragons)||Raiders 12-8|
|40th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 14-8|
|44th||Try Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 18-8|
|55th||Try John Bateman (Raiders)||Raiders 22-8|
|57th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 24-8|
|61st||Try Jack Wighton (Raiders)||Raiders 28-8|
|62nd||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 30-8|
|69th||Try Semi Valemei (Raiders)||Raiders 34-8|
|70th||Goal Jarrod Croker (Raiders)||Raiders 36-8|
|77th||Field goal George Williams (Raiders)||Raiders 37-8|
Canberra’s crash and bash assault up the middle contrasted St George-Illawarra’s instinctive play, but both came up with two tries apiece over the opening 40 minutes.
The Raiders’ 14-8 converted try lead came courtesy of Jarrod Croker’s 100% conversion rate as he slotted two tries and a penalty, while Zac Lomax couldn’t overcome the wind from the sideline.
Debutant Cody Ramsey ended the Dragons two-year first-half points drought against the Raiders, springing out of Semi Valemei’s grasp and into the right corner with his very first touch.
Valemei’s suffocating pressure on Lomax forced a turnover and instant Canberra reply, paving the way for Hudson Young to bully his way over the stripe.
After Nick Cotric produced a magical intercept – knocking Dufty’s pass well in front of him then taking a diving catch to keep it alive – the cruelest of bounces left Jordan Pereira dumbfounded to extend the Raiders’ lead, the Steeden having found its way to Jack Wighton who was unstoppable from close-range.
Going against the grain, St George-Illawarra retaliated through Ramsey. A floater from Matt Dufty lured Valemei into no-mans land and opened the door for the first-gamer to complete a spectacular first-half double.
Ramsey nearly produced an eye-catching first-half hattrick, but an offside ruling denied him having run the length of the field and allowed Croker to add two more points.
After withstanding a strong few minutes from the Red V, Canberra flicked a switch and went up a gear, turning a potential nailbiter into a serious blowout.
The 37-8 victory was the Raiders’ biggest ever win over St George-Illawarra, but more importantly revived their top-four hopes. With two games remaining the Green Machine trail the third-placed Eels by a game, and now have a superior for and against.
Short passing picked apart the Dragons middle and right side defence with concerning ease, exposing just how much work incoming coach Anthony Griffin has to do.
Elliott Whitehead’s deft grubber put the first second-half points on a platter for Jarrod Croker.
Young – who was exceptional with 196 run metres, two line-breaks, one try, and one try assist – burst through the line and set up his inside man in John Bateman.
A George Williams double-pump allowed Wighton to ease his way to the in-goal, some quick hands put Valemei over in the left corner soon after.
If it couldn’t get any worse for the Dragons, Williams took the chance to get some field-goal practice and extended the lead to 21 points, icing the cake on a stellar Raiders display in Wollongong.
He was on the receiving end of a drubbing, but Cody Ramsey had a debut to remember for all the right reasons. With over 50 family and friends in attendance, he didn’t waste any chances, scoring two spectacular tries in the right corner with his first four touches. Ramsey put his blistering speed on display too, taking a clean intercept and blazing out of sight in the blink of an eye. Had Zac Lomax not been offside his full-length effort would’ve been one of the tries of the season. When the game was dead and buried, Ramsey showed poise and determination, coolly intercepting a try-bound chip as well as darting out of his own in-goal under pressure. He brought joy to the Saints faithful on an otherwise horror day.
St George-Illawarra Dragons: 1. Matthew Dufty, 2. Jordan Pereira, 3. Euan Aitken, 4. Zac Lomax, 5. Cody Ramsey, 6. Corey Norman, 7. Adam Clune, 8. Kaide Ellis, 9. Ben Hunt, 10. Paul Vaughan, 11. Tyson Frizell, 19. Tyrell Fuimaono, 13. Cameron McInnes. Interchange: 14. Billy Brittain, 15. Josh Kerr, 16. Blake Lawrie, 17. Jackson Ford.
Canberra Raiders: 1. Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, 2. Semi Valemei, 3. Jarrod Croker, 4. Jordan Rapana, 5. Nick Cotric, 6. Jack Wighton, 7. George Williams, 8. Josh Papalii, 9. Tom Starling, 15. Dunamis Lui, 11. John Bateman, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Joseph Tapine. Interchange: 10. Ryan Sutton, 14. Siliva Havili, 16. Hudson Young, 17. Corey Harawira-Naera.