If you could write a script for this game before it even started, no-one would have accurately predicted what would happen. Yet somehow, the St George Illawarra Dragons fought back and recorded a remarkable comeback win.
Trailing 18-0 at one point, they fought valiantly and executed efficiently when it mattered, to record a surprise 22-20 win over the Canberra Raiders at GIO Stadium.
Completing just 45 percent of their sets in the first half, a victory looked unlikely for the Dragons but just when it looked like they were down and out, the comeback began.
Ill-discipline and poor decision making cost the Dragons early and they were on the back foot after crafty play from the Raiders Jarrod Croker, Iosia Soliola and Mitch Cornish. The three combined on numerous occasions to put together multiple opportunities for the Raiders.
A shining light for the Dragons throughout the clash was Euan Aitken who showed that he belongs in the NRL with a stellar game and performance on debut.
For the resolve they showed and the way they played themselves back into the contest, there was nothing but praise from Dragons coach Paul McGregor.
“To find that energy and certainly that attitude and effort it was really pleasing. It was something we lost in the opening two rounds of the game but certainly had a fair chunk of it in the backend of last year,” McGregor said.
“The boys to their credit completed 19 of 20 [sets] in the second half and the back five ran over 100 metres each so it’s a massive credit to the guys.”
It was a simple reality for Raiders coach Ricky Stuart as to why they lost – basic errors.
“It wasn’t good enough. The 25-minute mark we brought them right back into the game and invited them into the game through soft choices and poor plays and they took the invitation,” said Stuart.
Player of the Game:
3. Trent Merrin
2. Iosia Soliola
1. Euan Aitken
St George Illawarra Dragons 22 (Trent Merrin, Jason Nightingale, Mitch Rein, Joel Thompson Tries; Gareth Widdop 3 Goals) defeated Canberra Raiders 20 (Josh Hodgson, Iosia Soliola, Blake Austin Tries; Jarrod Croker 4 Goals). Crowd: 11,774. Half-time: Raiders 18-8. On report: Mike Cooper (Dragons) High tackle â€“ 31st minute.