With Cronulla Sharks set to play tomorrow, the St George Illawarra Dragons knew they had to beat the Canberra Raiders to keep their finals hopes alive.
Corey Norman made a solid run to get within a few metres of the Raiders line, before Zax Lomax dropped the ball on the next play.
Fortunately for the Dragons, they won themselves a penalty, to keep the early pressure on Canberra.
A one-on-one ball strip from Dunamis Lui was enough to hold off the Saints though.
The Raiders began to control the game as the ten-minute mark ticked by, forcing multiple repeat sets through the boot of both Jack Wighton and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.
In the 13th minute, Jack Wighton rolled the dice on the third tackle to play out on the left edge, but Elliot Whitehead’s pass to Semi Valemei hit the deck.
Five minutes later, it looked as though the Dragons had taken a shock lead.
A sweeping move from left to the right gave Cody Ramsey the chance to take on Valemei and brushed pass his opposite number before diving over to score.
On the 20th minute, the Raiders replied after an error from Lomax.
George Williams to the ball to the line, and dropped it to Hudson Young to crash over under the posts.
The Raiders doubled their lead a few minutes later, as the kick from Williams was left to bounce by Jordan Pereira, and into the hands of Rapana, who played in Joseph Tapine.
Tapine knew he wouldn’t make the line but offloaded to Jack Wighton to bust through three tacklers to score.
With just four minutes to go until the break, it looked as though the Dragons pulled a score back.
Matt Dufty threw a lofted pass over the top of Valemei, who was caught in no-mans land, and the ball found Ramsey who crossed for his second.
Croker looked to push the Raiders over the line on the right-edge but his pass was picked off by Ramsey who raced away.
However, the debutant was called back after Tyson Frizell was called offside and Croker converted to penalty for a six-point lead.
HALF-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 8-14 Canberra Raiders
The Dragons nearly went level at the start of the second half, as Jackson Ford crashed over but Lui and Bateman did enough to hold the ball off the ground.
Croker punished the Dragons just moments later.
He chased a deft kick from Whitehead on the left-edge and dotted down with not a singled defender around him.
Things got worse for the Dragons when both Josh Kerr and Billy Brittain clashed heads in the tackle, with both players heading off for a head injury assessment.
With 24 minutes left on the clock, the Raiders clicked into gear.
Siliva Havili put Young through a gap, and with just Dufty to beat, passed inside the Bateman who ran in to score.
The fifth Canberra try came soon after with Williams stopping just before the line, and putting Wighton through a gap for his second try.
With ten minutes to go, the Raiders attacked left with sharp, quick hands which were executed with perfection out to Valemei for score on the left-wing.
The Dragons couldn’t escape their own half, and with just under three minutes to go, George Williams slotted a field-goal for some finals practice.
The scoring didn’t stop their for the Raiders though.
Corey Harawira-Naera broke through the middle of the park, and kicked ahead with just Dufty to beat, and Williams seemed to ground the ball.
However, the half-back knocked the ball on in his attempt to ground the ball.
FULL-TIME: St George Illawarra Dragons 8-37 Canberra Raiders
St George Illawarra Dragons
Dufty, Pereira, Aitken, Lomax, Ramsey, Norman, Clune, Ellis, Hunt, Vaughan, Frizell, Ford, McInnes
Interchanges: Brittain, Kerr, Lawrie, Fuimaono
Tries: Ramsey (2)
Goals: Lomax (0/2)
Nicoll-Klokstad, Valemei, Croker, Rapana, Cotric, Wighton, Williams, Papalii, Starling, Lui, Bateman, Whitehead, Tapine
Interchanges: Sutton, Havili, Young, Harawira-Naera
Tries: Young, Wighton (2), Croker, Bateman, Valemei
Goals: Croker (6/7)
Referee: A. Gee
Touch Judges: J. Stone, D. Oultram
Video Referee: B. Galea
Image Source: @ (twitter)