Canberra used their ever improving backline to simply blow the Bulldogs away tonight, the Green Machine scoring 11 tries and totally embarrassing the Bulldogs to the tune of 58-18 – the Bulldogs largest ever loss since way back in 1959.
It’s a shame a larger crowd wasn’t on hand to support the home side, or simply watch the visiting Raiders put on an attacking display that has them firming weekly as a serious darkhorse in the NRL 2008 premiership. The official crowd figure says over 9,000 came through the gates, but someone has seriously fudged these figures. In reality there were probably 5000 to 6000 people at ANZ Stadium in one of the lowest attended matches of the year. Certainly a worrying sign for the NRL.
The Bulldogsâ€™ defensive performance was one of the poorest seen in the NRL this season, as they gifted 5 tries in the first half and 6 in the second, putting the once-imposing Bulldogs defence to absolute shame. As injured players on the sidelines looked on, the morale inside Belmore must be at an all time low, as the Blue and Whites look for answers.
Colin Best notched up a career-topping 4 try effort in ultimately what was a hiding that could have been much worse if not for a 20 minute portion in the second half where the visitors bombed at least three genuine try scoring opportunities. Best seems to have grown in stature since joining the Raiders and will be a handy pickup for the South Sydney side in 2009.
The Raiders were on top from the first whistle, exploding out of the blocks with the type of scintillating attack they usually reserve for Canberra Stadium, and never looked back.
A second man ball from Terry Campese laid on the opening four-pointer David Milne in just the fourth minute, Todd Carney comfortably adding the extras to get the Green Machine up and running.
The Raiders were almost in again minutes later when Glenn Butriss was cut down inches short, and could consider themselves unlucky after Dane Tilse barged his way over but was denied a try due to a double movement.
But it was to matter little, as the Raiders produced one of the tries of the season from their next possession.
Rookie sensation Justin Carney fielded the ball in his own 20 metre area and surged into space before linking with Terry Campese, he in turn released Best who brushed away from an ineffective attempted tackle from Nick Youngquest to go over in the corner.
Glenn Turner sold a simple dummy and crashed over Raiders third try in the 18th minute, with Carney’s conversion giving the Raiders a 16-nil advantage.
It looked like the Bulldogs fortunes were starting to turn when Hazem El Masri plucked a Joe Williams cross-field kick out of the air to get the home side on the board, but a schoolboy error from the kickoff kept the Dogs on the back foot.
Inexplicably, they were unable to get to the re-start on the full, and Joel Monaghan streaked through to gather the loose ball and put the Raiders back on the attack.
The Bulldogs defensive frailty was again shown up when Best crossed for a soft try in the corner to notch up a first-half double, giving the visitors a 20-6 lead after just 23 minutes.
The Bulldogs then came charging back into the contest with tries to Heka Nanai and Andrew Ryan, with the boot of El Masri closing the gap to just two points after 33 minutes.
But the Raiders gained the upper hand in the shadows of half time with a sixty metre effort finished off by Milne, with Carney’s conversion giving the visitors a 26-18 half time lead.
The second half was underway for less than two minutes when Best busted the defensive line and put Joe Picker in for the Raiders sixth try, with Carney adding the extras to put the visitors up by 14.
Best made it a hat-trick with an uninterrupted 50 metre run to the line in the 47th minute to make it 36-18, and a half-century was looking a mere formality for the Raiders.
It was at this point that the Green Machine went from well-oiled to busted, as they proceeded to bomb a plethora of four-pointers.
Justin Carney got the Raiders back into scoring mode when he snared a bomb from his namesake Todd for the Raiders eighth try, with Picker following up with his second six minutes from time, but the Raiders weren’t done yet.
Best grabbed his fourth of the night, strolling over in the 76th minute, before Bronx Goodwin dived over in the 79th minute to complete a night of utter humiliation for the Bulldogs.
CANBERRA 58 (C Best 4 D Milne 2 J Picker 2 J Carney B Goodwin G Turner tries T Carney 5 T Campese 2 goals)
BULLDOGS 18 (H El Masri H Nanai A Ryan tries H El Masri 3 goals)