Andrew Pelechaty reviews the Saturday afternoon Magic Round clash between Canterbury-Bankstown and Canberra. Here’s how the game went.
Tries: Nick Cotric (48), Nick Meaney (56), Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (79).
Goals: Jake Averillo (50, 58, 79)
Tries: Corey Harawira-Naera (12), Curtis Scott (67), Sebastian Kris (70).
Goals: George Williams (14, 30 – pen, 68, 71)
Player of the Year PointsEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Curtis Scott (Canberra Raiders)
2 pts – George Williams (Canberra Raiders)
1 pt – Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
This was a crucial game for both teams: Canterbury-Bankstown needed a win to keep their wooden spoon-offloading hopes alive, while Canberra were desperate after five straight losses, some familiar collapses, and drama following them like badly written characters in a melodramatic soap opera.
The Dogs dominated early, with 65% possession in the first seven minutes before Canberra started to get some decent territory.
Bailey Simmonson had a chance to score in the right corner after 10 minutes, but was driven into touch.
Canberra made up for it with former Bulldog Corey Harawira-Naera scoring after some power running from Josh Papalii and brilliant second phase, ad-lib footy. George Williams converted for a 6-0 lead after 12 minutes.
The Milk got another prime chance after the Dogs knocked on close to their line, but couldn’t take advantage.
While the Dogs made plenty of breaks, they lacked the finishing skills to punish the Raiders. A Corey Horsburgh knock-on gave them a big attacking chance, but Canberra’s defence held firm.
Canberra marched downfield with some positive, attacking footy and earnt a goal-line drop out with a nice grubber from Elliott Whitehead, then earnt a repeat set from the drop out and a penalty. Williams decided to take the easy two for an 8-0 lead.
Semi Valemei, playing his first NRL game for the year, nearly scored a try off a Williams bomb, but was ankle-tapped just short of the line. He did well not to reach out and concede a double movement/second effort penalty.
While Canberra were starting to gain the ascendancy, they would have been frustrated by their inability to fully convert, especially with their pattern of diabolical second halves, so the Dogs were still in the contest. Interestingly, there was no Josh Hodgson in the first half: was Ricky Stuart keeping him as the second half ace in the hole?
At least there were no sin-bins after the chaotic scenes in Friday night’s games. Though that would soon change.
HALF-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0 Canberra Raiders 8Embed from Getty Images
There was drama early for the Raiders with Horsburgh going down in a tackle; the last thing Canberra needed was more injuries. The good news was that Hodgson finally came on.
Valemi showed some athleticism with a big run out of the in-goal: despite spending most of the year in NSW Cup, his pace and enthusiasm was a plus so far.
Canterbury-Bankstown’s Will Hopoate broke down the right and was pulled down short of the line, before former Raider Nick Cotric planted the ball on the line to score. Jake Averillo converted to trim Canberra’s lead to 8-6. Would the Raiders’ second half ghosts return…again…or would they finally show some resistance?
There was another blow for Canberra with Jack Wighton put on report and sin-binned after a dangerous tackle.
Nick Meaney put the Dogs in the lead in the 56th minute as they shifted to the left. Averillo’s conversion gave Canterbury-Bankstown a 12-8 lead.
The Dogs got a huge slice of luck when Meaney’s bomb hit the upright; the Dogs got the ball back, but fell short of scoring again on the last tackle.
There was more drama for Canberra when Papalii made direct contact with the head of Tuipulotu Katoa. Papalii was sent off and the Raiders were going to be down to 11 men for a small period.
Then, if it couldn’t get worse for Canberra, Hodgson was put on report for a chicken wing.
Canberra finally got some luck with a penalty for the Dogs holding up the play.
Canberra got another penalty when Adam Elliot tackled Valemi without the ball before he took a bomb. And then another penalty off the next set, with Ava Seumanufagai put on report, but not sin binned.
Curtis Scott scored in the right corner with 13 minutes left, giving the Raiders some hope. Williams nailed the epic sideline conversion to give Canberra the lead again with 10 minutes left.
The Milk scored again three minutes later, with Sebastian Kris scoring in his lucky 13th NRL game. Another Williams conversion gave Canberra a 20-12 lead. For once, Canberra were showing more desperation in defence, and showing some pride in their jersey.
The Dogs got a late try through Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, giving them 30 seconds for a comeback win. Could there be one more twist in this game?
There wasn’t, as the Dogs knocked on off the kick-off.
After five dramatic weeks, Canberra finally won. While they have tough games against Melbourne and the Sydney Roosters, the two points would be a huge sigh of relief, especially after playing for 12 men for the last 20 minutes and even 11 for a few minutes. As for the Dogs, they would be kicking themselves for blowing a prime opportunity after erasing an 8-0 halftime deficit to lead 12-8.
FULL-TIME: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 18 Canberra Raiders 20
to be advised
Match Review Committee
Sione Katoa (Bulldogs) – Grade 1 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Guilty Plea $1150 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $1500 fine
Jack Wighton (Raiders) – Grade 2 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Guilty Plea 1 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 2 match ban
Josh Papalii (Raiders) – Grade 3 High Tackle Careless – Early Guilty Plea 3 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 5 match ban
Josh Hodgson (Raiders) – Grade 2 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Guilty Plea 1 match ban, Guilty at Judiciary 2 match ban
Ava Seumanufagai (Bulldogs) – Grade 1 Dangerous Contact Other – Early Guilty Plea $1700 fine, Guilty at Judiciary $2250 fine