The Dragons defied brutal conditions in Wollongong to down the Raiders 12-10 at WIN Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In driving rain and gale force winds the kicking game of Ben Hunt proved vital in a tight contest which featured just four tries.
The Dragons opened the scoring in bizarre fashion when Jordan Rapana attempted a short dropout and Jack Wighton tapped the ball back, only for the ball to land in the hands of Talatau Amone who strolled over for a 4-0 lead.
Another short dropout gone wrong by Canberra handed Zac Lomax a gift two points from in front of the sticks and the Red V led 6-0 after 26 minutes.
The Raiders hit back on the half hour mark when Xavier Savage took the ball 15 metres out and accelerated through the defence to slide in for his fourth try of the season.
A spilled bomb by Nick Cotric handed the Dragons field position and they capitalised through a rampaging Moses Suli, taking an inside ball from Jack Bird and running over the top of Savage to score.
Wighton howler gifts Amone an early treat
The Dragons made a strong start to the second half with Andrew McCullough got over from dummy half but was held up as the Raiders found themselves under the pump after Wighton had knocked on from the kick-off.
After surviving that early scare the Raiders settled into a rhythm and grabbed their second try when Hudson Young powered through some poor online defence to make it 12-10.
Speedster Savage burns the Dragons
A towering kick by Wighton was put down by Cody Ramsey in the 63rd minute to hand Canberra an opportunity but Wighton dropped the ball on the first tackle and the Dragons were off the hook.
When Ramsey put down a bomb with 90 seconds to play the Raiders had a chance to pull the game out of the fire but they were denied by desperate Dragons defence and a controversial last tackle when the visitors felt a penalty should have been awarded rather than a six-again.
The win keeps the Dragons into eighth spot while the Raiders are languishing in 11th ahead of a bye in round 17.
Dragons hold on in tough encounter
- Joe Tapine continued his fine season for the Raiders with 153 metres from 16 runs in 68 minutes of game time.
- Cody Ramsey proved elusive at the back for the Dragons with four tackle breaks and 98 run metres.
- Adam Elliott gave the Raiders plenty of impact when he entered the game from the the bench, making 131 metres from 14 strong carries.
- Andrew McCullough and Jack Bird got through 90 tackles between them for the Dragons while Joe Tapine made 45 tackles for Canberra.
The elements continue to test the players
- The Dragons have won their past four games at WIN Stadium.
- The Raiders have won only two from eight away games in 2022.
- Red V veteran Moses Mbye saw his first action in the 65th minute when young winger Mat Feagai hobbled off with a knee injury.
- The Dragons completed 33 of 42 sets at 78 per cent in the atrocious conditions.
Play of the Game
Moses Suli has been a revelation at in 2022, getting himself in the best physical condition of his career and loving life on the Dragons' left edge. Approaching half-time Suli powered onto a neat inside pass from Jack Bird and stormed over for his fourth try of the season to stretch the home side's lead to 12-4. Suli is averaging in excess of 150 metres per game this season and has busted 81 tackles, forming a potent combination with young winger Mat Feagai.
Super Suli can't be stopped
What They Said
"I thought in the first half at times we got a few penalties and we got our field position from their errors and we didn't respect the conditions as much. We were a bit lateral and didn't have enough physicality in us, so they were much more physical than us in the first half, but to our credit in the second half against the wind we played the type of football we need to play, our kicking game and our defence down their end of the field, we kept them down their for long periods in that second half which is how we won the game." - Dragons coach Anthony Griffin
Dragons: Round 16
"Tomorrow I'll get an apology or there'll be justification of there not being a penalty [on the last play]. We set ourselves up to win that game. It was a really tough grind in the first half and then the second half we let ourselves down, we lost our way. We had an opportunities but we lost our way. When you're in a high performance business there's always going to be pressure, and when there's pressure you need courage, and there needed to be courage on that ruling on the last play of the day." - Raiders coach Ricky Stuart
Raiders: Round 16
The Dragons face a tough road trip to Brisbane in round 17 to face the Broncos. The last time the sides met in round 13 last year the Red V had a big win 52-24 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Their only injury concern is winger Mat Feagai, who had ice on his knee after coming off late in the game.
The Raiders enjoy a bye in round 17 to rest tired bodies before heading to AAMI Park to face the Storm in round 18.