An impressive display of resilience by the Canterbury Bulldogs has seen them defeat the Canberra Raiders 16-10 at ANZ Stadium.
Losing both James Graham (concussion) and Josh Reynolds (hamstring) prior to the half-time interval, the Bulldogs dug deep and managed to find a way to win and hold onto the victory.
Uncharacteristically, Canberra had put away their defensive techniques and defensive mojo, letting in three tries down the same side as the Dogs fought their way back into the contest after trailing 10-4.
In a game that had many fans tipping the Raiders, they were simply overrun in the end as their defence let them down and the Bulldogs capitalised, on the back of solid games from returning fullback Will Hopoate and back-rower Adam Elliott.
Although gun Raiders winger Nick Cotric tried his best to keep them in the game with an intercept and then a line-break soon after, one man could not do it all himself.
Forced to play catch-up over the last 20 minutes, the Raiders, to their credit, gave it everything they had but inopportune errors and poor execution proved their downfall as they were unable to trouble the opposition scorers whilst trailing.
Also leaving the field was Raiders prop Shannon Boyd, who was called up into the Australian squad after the demotion of team-mate Josh Papalii, with coach Ricky Stuart optimistic about his chances to play in that fixture.
“I don’t know [if he’ll be able to play next week], I’d have to talk to the doctor,” Stuart said.
“Hopefully it doesn’t for Shannon’s sake. Is he in the 17 now? OK, so hopefully it doesn’t for his sake.”
Waiting seven weeks to return, Hopoate was chomping at the bit to play footy again and he made an immediate impression in his return game.
“I was really excited to play this game after having seven weeks off and it’s not too fun watching from the sidelines so I really wanted to come out and do my best for the boys,” he said.
“Every player knows when you’re in rehab, it’s not too fun in there, they flog you with cardio and conditioning and that was the case with our trainer.
Player of the Game:
3. Will Hopoate
2. Adam Elliott
- Josh Morris
Canterbury Bulldogs 16 (Elliott 2, J Morris tries; Holland 2 goals) defeated Canberra Raiders 10 (Croker, Hodgson tries; Croker goal) at ANZ Stadium. Half time: Raiders 10-4. Crowd: 13,390.