Surprisingly, Canterbury Bulldogs Origin duo Josh Reynolds and Trent Hodkinson both backed up from Wednesday night’s clash, as the Bulldogs defeated the Canberra Raiders 22-14 at GIO Stadium.
On a night where temperatures reached minus one degrees, the loss effectively ends any hope the Raiders have of playing finals footy as just over 10,000 fans were left to rue missed opportunities.
The Raiders had their chances all game and at times, played rather decently – though poor execution ultimately cost them the match.
With the Origin duo backing up – Hodkinson playing was the surprise given reports had him missing the game with a corked thigh – elements of the Dogs fluid attack were evident.
Despite all that, the Raiders were the ones that started all guns blazing, on the back of some hot-potato like football that saw in-form centre Jarrod Croker continue his great try-scoring run.
After a quick Raiders penalty goal, though, it was all one-way traffic, as a double to Drury Low and tries to Tim Lafai and Corey Thompson saw the Raiders lose all momentum.
They did score a late try through talented utility back Anthony Milford who surprisingly, started the game from the bench – a decision that surprised many NRL fans.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler praised both of his halves for backing up and steering the ship.
“Just having them out there to steer the team gives the players around them a lot of confidence,” Hasler said.
Not making live easy for themselves is a trait the Raiders are becoming accustomed to, with pedestrian errors at inopportune times costing them the game yet again.
“With 12 turnovers, and five of them on or before tackle two, that means we can’t beat footy teams like that,” he said.
“We’re not a good enough team to lack polish.”
Despite finals footy seemingly impossible now, Raiders captain Terry Campese says the club has not thrown in the towel just yet.
“In saying that, we’ve got to turn it around quickly,” he said.
3. Tim Lafai
2. Jarrod Croker
1. Sam Kasiano/David Shillington