In a battle between sixth and ninth, the Canberra Raiders welcomed the South Sydney Rabbitohs to GIO Stadium as both sides looked to sit more comfortably in the top-eight.
The game started in an extremely fast fashion with both sides working through their sets at some speed, but it was the Raiders who started the faster.
Jack Wighton’s crossfield kick was tapped back by Jordan Rapana, bounced of Nick Cotric’s head, which he then regathered and raced into the corner to score.
The Rabbitohs should have scored in the very next set after Alex Johnston’s pass to Jaxson Paulo should have been claimed by the winger, but the youngster couldn’t hold on and it remained 4-0.
Canberra then punished South Sydney for their lack of cutting edge as Wighton’s kick along the floor pulled up just short of the try-line to fool the Rabbitohs defenders and Jarrod Croker picked the ball up and dived over to score.
Just after the 20th minute, the visitors finally hit back.
Dane Gagai was the recipient, as a number of Cody Walker and Bailey Sironen combined to release the centre to cross the whitewash.
The scores were locked up moments later as Adam Reynolds popped a short ball to Jayden Su’A and the second-rower then offloaded back to the half-back on the inside and bring the ball around under the posts to score.
Reynolds then converted his own try to score for 1500 career points,
With three minutes to go until the break, Dunamis Lui turned into a half-back as he threw a no-look pass to release Elliot Whitehead through the line and crash over.
However, Damien Cook was obstructed by Hudson Young and the try was disallowed.
HALF-TIME: Canberra Raiders 10-12 South Sydney Rabbitohs
With both sides going toe-to-toe at the start of the second half, the game could swing towards either team.
After Mark Nicholls was penalised for a late hit on the Raiders kicker, Croker opted to take the two points and the scores were level with 30 minutes to go.
The Bunnies went close just minutes later, but some crunchy defence for the Raiders kept the scores level.
Just minutes later, Canberra found themselves deep in the Rabbitohs half, and Elliot Whitehead found himself at dummy-half, kicked against the South Sydney defence, with the ball bouncing to Semi Valemei and the young winger stretched over for his first NRL-try.
With 20 minutes to go, Tom Burgess charged over the top of Tom Starling, and through the tackle of few Raiders defenders, to stretch out but the ball was centimetres from the line and the home side still led by six.
Another barraging run from Burgess put Souths to within 10-metres, but a poor fifth tackle play let the visitors down once again.
With 70 minutes gone, the Raiders were struggling to deal with the pressure on their defence, and things got worse when Valemei attempted to pick up Walker’s kick along the floor but the collided with Rapana, which meant Croker had no choice but to pick up the ball in an offside position to deny Souths a try.
Due to Rapana having to leave the field for a Head Injury Assessment, the Raiders had to shuffle players around for a third time after some knocks to other players not on the field.
With two minutes to go, the slippery conditions were making ball control difficult for both sides, with Souths nearly gifting the Raiders the chance to seal the victory. However, William’s kick along the floor was slightly too long.
Souths had the ball in hand in the final minute of the game and continued to push for an equalizer but Dunamin Lui managed to strip the ball from Su’A and Canberra walked in for the next four tackles and picked up the two points.
FULL-TIME: Canberra Raiders 18-12 South Sydney Rabbitohs
Nicoll-Klokstad, Cotric, Croker, Rapana, Valemei, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Havili, Lui, Young, Whitehead, O’Donnell
Interchanges: Starling, Tapine, Sutton, Smith-Shields
Tries: Cotric, Croker, Valemei
Goals: Croker (3/4)
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Johnston, Allan, Graham, Gagai, Paulo, Walker, Reynolds, Tatola, Cook, Burgess, Su’A, Sironen, Murray
Interchanges: Nicholls, Sele, Johns, Koloamatangi
Tries: Gagai, Reynolds
Goals: Reynolds (2/2)
Referee: A. Klein
Touch Judges: D. Munro, M. Noyen
Video Referee: B. Norrie
Image Source: @NRL (Twitter)