The Canterbury Bulldogs travelled to the fifth-placed Canberra Raiders, knowing that a win would move them off the bottom of the table, but the home side were also looking to move into the top four.
The opening score appeared to come in the 4th minute as Curtis Scott tapped back ??? kick into the arms of Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
The full-back found Nick Cotric on the right-wing, who threw the pass back inside for Nicoll-Klokstad to pick up and run in.
However, on the full-back’s initial pick-up, the ball went forward and made contact with John Bateman for a knock-on.
The Bulldogs worked themselves into the game over the next few minutes and managed to open the scoring.
Lachlan Lewis looped a long pass over the top of Jordan Rapana to find Dallin Watene-Zelezniak to go over and score in the corner.
In the 15th minute, Dunamis Lui picked up the inside pass from George Williams, charged forward and offloaded to Tom Starling who released Joseph Tapine who then broke through numerous tackles to power over and slam the ball down by the posts.
At the end of the Raiders very next set, Will Hopoate dropped Jack Wighton’s high bomb and came forward into the hands of George Williams and passed inside to Tom Starling to race away and score under the posts.
Canberra began to concede penalty after penalty, as the Bulldogs built up a sustained period of pressure on the home side, but a fifth tackle kick was cleaned up by Rapana and the Raiders came clear.
That lasted around two minutes though as the Bulldogs came back and crossed through Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
The second-rower picked the ball up outside Marcelo Montoya and through the Canberra defence to score.
With five minutes to go until the break, the Raiders came within inches of extended their lead as Jordan Rapana kicked ahead for himself but couldn’t quite judge the bounce of the ball.
Canterbury restarted from the 20-metre line, and at the end of the set, Foran’s kicked was tapped back by Kerrod Holland to Lachlan Lewis, who found Josh Jackson to dummy past Jarrad Croker and go over to score to lead at the break.
That wasn’t the end of the scoring in the first half though as the Bulldogs kept the ball alive on the last tackle after the Raiders let the ball bounce.
The ball found Holland again who kicked the ball forward twice and beat everyone else to the ball and ground the ball.
Nick Meaney converted for an eight-point lead.
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 12-20 Canterbury Bulldogs
The Bulldogs started the brighter and picked up three set-restarts on the bounce, and then two penalties, which referee Chris Butler felt was too many and Tom Starling found himself in the sin-bin.
Despite being a man down, the Raiders muscled their way up into the Canterbury half, and Jack Wighton took the game into his own hands as he ran the ball himself, busting through the tackles and stretched over to cut the deficit.
Somehow, the Raiders picked up another try with a man down.
Wighton picked the ball up at first receiver, and stepped inside Lewis, who had shot up in defence, and pushed away from a second defender to take the lead.
Croker missed the conversion to leave the scores at 22-20, but the home side were back to 13 players on the field.
On the hour mark, Hudson Young exploited the Bulldogs brittle middle defence and charged straight over three tacklers to score under the posts.
Every time Canberra had the ball, it looked as though they would score, and Tom Starling made sure to grab his second as he spotted a gap at dummy-half and accelerated over the try line from five-metres out.
Try number seven should have come moments later as Williams broke through the middle after a flick pass from Rapana, but the half-backs pass out to debutant Matt Timoko hit the deck and then Cotric knocked the ball-on with no defenders around him.
The Bulldogs would finish with the ball in their hands, but a knock-on would bring an end to the game.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 34-20 Canterbury Bulldogs
Nicoll-Klokstad, Rapana, Croker, Scott, Cotric, Wighton, Williams, Lui, Starling, Sutton, Bateman, Whitehead, Tapine
Interchanges: Papalii, Havili, Young, Timoko
Tries: Tapine, Starling (2), Wighton (2), Young
Goals: Croker (5/6)
Hopoate, Meaney, Montoya, Holland, Watene-Zelezniak, Foran, Lewis, Ogden, Marshall-King, Napa, Jackson, Faitala-Mariner, Tolman
Interchanges: Katoa, To’omaga, Britt. Doorey
Tries: Watene-Zelezniak, Faitala-Marine, Jackson, Holland
Goals: Meaney (2/4)
Referee: C. Butler
Touch Judges: J. Stone, L. Kennedy
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (twitter)