Canberra Raiders have continued their recent form by knocking off last year’s grand finalists at Apex Oval in Dubbo.
South Sydney Rabbitohs 12
Tries: Damien Cook (51), Alex Johnston (68)
Goals: Blake Taaffe 2 (52, 70)
Canberra Raiders 32
Tries: Nick Cotric (4), Josh Papalii (13), Hudson Young (31), Sebastian Kris (38), Matthew Timoko (44), Xavier Savage (66)
Goals: Jordan Rapana (32, 40, 62 – pen)
MATCH REPORTEmbed from Getty Images
There was a blow for Souths on the opening hit-up with Tevita Tatola taken off with a HIA after contact with Josh Papalii, who was celebrating his 250th NRL game. Unfortunately for Souths, Tatola was ruled out for the game.
Canberra were first to score through Nick Cotric, with a lovely, loopy ball (with the kind of flight that would make old-school spinners proud) from the returning Jack Wighton. Brad Schneider – a late inclusion after Matt Frawley was ruled out due to the flu that had ravaged the Raiders – missed the conversion.
Souths had a chance to hit back, but it was ruined by an obstruction.
After a brilliant win over Cronulla-Sutherland in Magic Round, Canberra had started well again.
They converted this start with a try to Papalii off a Souths mistake. Schneider missed the conversion as Canberra led 8-0.
Souths were again denied a scoring chance through an obstruction.
Liam Knight was close to scoring for Souths, but lost the ball through some strong Canberra defence.
Again, Canberra’s tenacious defence won out, with Wighton forcing a loose ball through strong defence.
There was another HIA for Souths, this time for Taane Milne.
Canberra went further ahead when Hudson Young barged over off a Tom Starling pass, with Jordan Rapana converting the try (after Schneider was sent on metaphorical fine-leg-to-fine-leg duty). The 14-0 lead felt like an accurate reflection of Canberra’s dominance.
Souths got a chance with five minutes left after a Canberra knock-on off their tryline, but they got the ball back on the first tackle after the scrum.
Canberra put on one of the tries of the year to close the half: Corey Horsburgh to Hudson Young to Starling to Sebastian Kris. It showed the renewed confidence Canberra were playing with.
As for Souths, they’d now conceded 44 points to six in the last 80 minutes.
HALF-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 0 Canberra Raiders 20Embed from Getty Images
There was an early blow for Canberra with an injured Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad replaced by Xavier Savage.
Milne also failed his HIA, meaning Souths were down to fifteen men.
Canberra extended their lead through Matt Timoko after a lovely flick pass from Rapana. While Rapana missed the conversion, Canberra still had a comfortable 24-0 lead. Surely the “Faders” wouldn’t come back today?
Souths finally scored when a desperate attempt to keep the footy alive led to Damien Cook scoring. Was this the start of a Rabbits comeback? Would Canberra start getting nervous?
Canberra turned defence into attack when, with Souths threatening, Wighton broke away, running 80 metres with NSW teammate Cook chasing. While Canberra couldn’t score, a penalty allowed Rapana to kick a simple goal and put the Raiders up 26-6 with 19 minutes left. It was a necessary settler for Canberra.
Meanwhile, the Dubbo crowd could enjoy the excellent Muse song “Psycho” over the PA on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
Canberra sealed the win when Xavier Savage scored his first NRL try after a burst of speed to run 50 metres.
Alex Johnston scored for Souths, but it was purely consolation now, barring a miracle.
After being in wooden spoon territory following the rock bottom loss to the Warriors, Canberra is now on the edge of the eight after three straight wins, while Souths are clinging onto eighth on points differential.
FULL-TIME: South Sydney Rabbitohs 12 Canberra Raiders 32
PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTSEmbed from Getty Images
3 pts – Joe Tapine (Raiders), 2 pts – Jack Wighton (Raiders), 1 pt – Hudson Young (Raiders)
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