The St George Illawarra Dragons were 42-22 victors over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium, Canberra on Saturday.
The Young Dragons scored eight tries in the blistering cold conditions with centre Euan Aitken banking a treble in the win.
Co-Head Coaches Ben Hornby and Dean Young had opted to standby the line-up announced midweek for the trip to the nation’s capital but found their team trailing shortly after kick-off.
Raiders hooker Dylan McGrath opened up the scoring with a dummy and dive over the stripe in the third minute.
Raiders fullback Jono Kent converted to make it 6-0.
The home side continued their early momentum through centre Ricky Garard who ran on to a neat bomb by five-eighth Lachlan Lewis six minutes later.
Kent converted to make it 12-0.
The visitors started finding their rhythm as play continued and eventually notched their first points of the encounter in the 20th minute.
Dragons centre Euan Aiken had been the instigator for the successful play, managing a short grubber to the left flank for winger Leigh Higgens to collect and plant.
Aitken went from provider to scorer on the halfhour mark with a blistering 40-metre run down the right flank to close the deficit to four points.
The Dragons managed to level proceedings after the interval through second-rower Jack Bird in the 51st minute.
The NSW Blues U20 representative had been the beneficiary of Aitken, who once again broke the host’s line to dart 20-metres before offloading to Bird.
Dragons five-eighth Shannon Crook converted to make it 14-12.
The Dragons continued applying heavy attacking pressure on the home side as play continued and breached their ranks once again through Aitken in the 53rd minute.
Crook converted to make it 20-12.
Dragons winger Sitiveni Moceidreke inscribed his name on the scoresheet soon after following Bird’s cheeky flick to the flanker on the right-edge in the 56th minute.
Crook again converted to make it 26-12.
The Dragons points barrage continued when Aitken crossed the stripe to round-off his hat trick for the match just shy of the hourmark.
Crook converted to make it 32-12.
However, the Raiders rallied and replied in favour to peg-back the deficit through winger Lachlan Hurst in the 67th minute.
Yet, the Dragons extinguished any hopes of the opposition recording a fairy-tale comeback when fullback Matt Dufty lunged his way over the points’ area in the 71st minute.
The Raiders managed a final consolatory try five minutes from time through lock Jules Webley’s charge-and-barge adjacent to the posts.
Kent converted to make it 36-22.
Yet, Dragons centre Brent Anderson was on the end of one final attacking play by the visitors to help solidify the win on the siren.
Crook converted to make it 42-22.
St George Illawarra Dragons 42. Tries: Aitken (3), Higgens, Bird, Moceidreke, Dufty, Anderson. Goals: Crook (5/8).
Canberra Raiders 22. Tries: McGrath, Garard, Hurst, Webley. Goals: Kent (3/4).