2023 NRL Magic Round: Raiders 34, Bulldogs 30

Andrew Pelechaty review a nailbiting Magic Round opener.

Result

Canberra Raiders 34
Tries: (6) Jordan Rapana 1st, 44th; Xavier Savage 16th; Matthew Timoko 19th; Hudson Young 22nd; Jarrod Croker 57th
Goals: (5) Jarrod Croker 2nd, 21st, 24th, 58th, 71st

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 30
Tries: (5) Jacob Preston 10th, 26th; Jake Averillo 32nd, 62nd; Hayze Perham 76th
Goals: (5) Matt Burton 11th, 28th, 34th, 63rd, 77th

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Report

Just like The Dolphins game last week, Canberra scored off their opening set, with Jordan Rapana taking a Jamal Fogarty bomb. Jarrod Croker converted for a 6-0 lead. 

Zac Woolford (a year after making his debut in Magic Round last season), nearly scored off the next set, barging over from dummy half, but he was just short.

The Bulldogs took advantage of a Matt Burton 40/20 when Jacob Preston scored. Burton converted to tie the scores at 6-6.

Canberra hit back (after Hudson Young pulled off a one-on-one strip to give the Raiders possession) with Xavier Savage – in his first NRL game for 2023 –  catching a Jack Wighton kick.

Matt Timoko raced through off a scrum to extend Canberra’s lead to 16-6. 

Canberra pushed their lead to 22-6 in the next set when Young cleaned up a Hayze Perham error from a Fogarty bomb.

Preston scored his second, chasing a Burton grubber, to keep the Bulldogs in the game at 22-12 after 28 minutes.

The Dogs scored again off a Burton kick, with Jake Averillo touching down. Burton converted to cut Canberra’s lead to 22-18.

While the Dogs got close to scoring again, Canberra held on to lead 22-18 at half-time.

Canberra scored the vital opening try in the second half through Rapana (his second try). Croker just missed the sideline conversion.

Emre Guler nearly extended Canberra’s lead, but Wighton’s pass was ruled forward, but it seemed line-ball at worst.

The Raiders redeemed themselves through Croker, giving them a 32-18 lead with 22 minutes left.

Averillo scored his second try after the Raiders defenders chose to let a massive Burton clearing kick bounce. Burton converted the try as the Dogs only trailed by eight.

Canberra got a penalty for an incorrect drop out (not going 10 metres), with Croker taking the two to extend Canberra’s lead to 10 with nine minutes left. 

Canberra were denied a match-winning try to Savage due to a knock on, though the ball bounced off Wighton’s head – a classic Falcon. But Canberra had no Captain’s Challenges left.

The Bulldogs got a penalty try when Ata Mariota tackled Hayze Perham before he could score. Suddenly it was 34-30 with three minutes left.

The Dogs got one more chance after a stripping penalty, with Burton putting up a huge bomb, but Rapana caught it safely. 

Canberra won another nail biter (their fourth straight win) to improve to 5-4 and enter the eight, while the Bulldogs are 4-6 – still two points outside the eight for now.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POINTS

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3 – Matthew Timoko (Raiders)
2 – Matt Burton (Bulldogs)
1 – Corey Horsburgh (Raiders)

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