The Canberra Raiders have put on a clinical display to defeat the St George Illawarra Dragons by a scoreline of 37-8 at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
Young Dragons debutant Cody Ramsay was the hero for his side in the first half with two tries, but the Canberra halves pairing of Jack Wighton and George Williams proved too strong in the second half as the Raiders ran away with the game.
Much to the elation of the forty family and friends gathered on the sideline, Ramsay scored the first try of the match with his first touch in first grade.
Hudson Young quickly hit back for the Raiders three minutes later, crashing through some lacklustre defence from Dragons props Kaide Ellis and Paul Vaughan.
Matt Dufty looked set to re-take the lead for the hosts but a diving intercept from Nick Cotric squandered the Dragons’ attacking raid. Instead, Jordan Rapana would clean up a horror bounce on the ensuing kick and send Jack Wighton over for his first of the night.
Dufty soon got his revenge as he sent a lofted cut-out pass to Cody Ramsay, who spectacularly reached behind to collect the ball before planting it over the line in the South-Western corner of WIN Stadium.
Ramsay almost had a remarkable first-half hat trick when he took an intercept on the stroke of half-time and ran the length of the field, but was denied as Zac Lomax was deemed offside.
Jarrod Croker slotted the resulting penalty-kick from the sideline to give the Raiders a 14-8 lead as both sides hit the sheds.
Unfortunately for the Dragons, Ramsay’s first-half double represented the full extent of their scoring for the match as they struggled to maintain any momentum in the second half.
Jarrod Croker collected a deft Elliott Whitehead grubber to open Canberra’s second half account before the Wigan-bound John Bateman weaved past Cody Ramsay and Jackson Ford to score.
Jack Wighton got his second try off a succulent set piece from George Williams, who double-pumped before sending his halves partner over for the tenth try of the season. It is the first time Wighton has reached the double-digit milestone in his career.
With the result all but confirmed, Semi Valemei crossed for his second career try before George Williams finished the match with a field-goal.
With the win, the Raiders have drawn level with the fourth-placed Roosters, who will face Newcastle later tonight. The Dragons’ mathematical finals chances are now non-existent.
Following the match, Ricky Stuart was impressed with how his squad were able to back up their strong first-half effort to seal the result in the second, which they were unable to do against the Roosters last Saturday.
“This week we kept our foot on their throat. While It’s very easy for a coach to say you’ve got to be ruthless and play eighty minutes, executing that is very difficult.” he said.
For the Dragons, interim coach Dean Young also drew similarities with his side’s performance last weekend as they failed to capitalise on their chances to seize the game when the result was still in the balance.
“We’re down on confidence, we’ve been losing a lot this year and we’re just not nailing our (opportunities) with the ball when we need to”, he stated.
Both sides will now enjoy an eight day turnaround as the Raiders will advance to face a desperate Warriors outfit next Sunday afternoon, while the Dragons can look forward to a tough match against the Knights.
NRL News Player of the Game:
3 Points – Jack Wighton – The Raiders’ five-eighth was seemingly involved in everything tonight as he chimed in with two tries and a try-assist in a superb outing for his club.
2 Points – George Williams – Williams played the perfect supporting role to his halves partner with three try-assists and a field goal to round out the match.
1 Point – Hudson Young – With a try, one try assist and two line-breaks in a monster sixty-minute performance, Young appears set to play a major role in the Raiders’ premiership push come October.