The South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone down to the Canberra Raiders by 30-22 in front of 8713 at Barlow Park in Cairns.
The Raiders were first to score inside the first five minutes of the match after a penalty to green machine for a high tackle gifted them field position – Jordan Rapana doing taking the points to make the score 4-0.
Canberra almost doubled their points mere minutes later when Edrick Lee picked up a loose-ball before racing 40 metres to seemingly score. But the effort was disallowed after video replays showed Glenn Stewart was caught high as the ball went loose.
Chris McQueen came within a whisker of hitting back for the red and greens when he hit a short-ball at speed close to the line. But the Raiders’ defence was equal to the task holding up McQueen millimetres short of the stripe.
McQueen made no mistake the second time around though half way through the opening stanza, after some strong lead-up work from the Rabbitohs forwards – McQueen again hitting a beautiful ball from Luke Keary to charge over and score next to the posts. Issac Luke converted from short-range to take the lead at 6-4.
The tide was about to turn further when Luke Keary put in a well-placed cross-field kick to an unmarked Bryson Goodwin who went in to score. Luke added the extras from the side-line to give Souths a 12-4 lead.
Canberra compounded their problems when they sailed the ball over the dead-ball line from the kick-off, gifting the Rabbitohs possession and an instant crack going in again. But despite a dangerous attacking raid from the red and green backs, the ball would ultimately sail over the touch-line.
Just minutes from half time, McQueen powered through the Raiders defence, streaking 30 metres before linking up with Alex Johnston who was mowed down just metres from the line. But with the Canberra side dishevelled, Greg Inglis took full advantage to score his 50th Rabbitohs try to make it 16-4.
The second stanza started poorly for the Rabbitohs after the Raiders threaded a short-side play that saw Edrick Lee crash over, before Shannon Boyd added another four-pointer not long afterwards to make 16-14 in favour of the Raiders with Jarrod Croker’s conversion.
South Sydney hit back mid-way through the second half when they ventured down the short-side before Bryson Goodwin kicked back in-field for a flying Luke Keary to touch down and score. Luke converted from just inside touch to make it 22-14.
While the Rabbitohs looked in control, a penalty to the Raiders was all that was needed to turn the tide and Josh Papalii would be the main beneficiary when he streaked through the middle of the South Sydney defence to narrow the gap. Croker added the extras to make it a two-point ball-game at 22-20.
The momentum began to build for the Raiders and more points were on the way with Blake Austin going over in similar fashion to Papalii to re-take the lead for the Raiders at 24-22. Croker blew the opportunity to make the difference four points when his conversion attempt from right in front hit the upright.
With eight minutes remaining in the match, a crucial penalty within kicking distance to the Raiders was awarded, and Croker took advantage – making up for his earlier miss 25 metres out.
Edrick Lee wrapped the match up though when he took a well-placed kick into the in-goal to grab his second of the afternoon to round out the match.
Raiders 30 (Jordan Rapana, Edrick Lee 2, Shannon Boyd, Josh Papalii, Blake Austin, tries; Jarrod Croker 3 goals)
Rabbitohs 22 (Chris McQueen, Bryson Goodwin, Greg Inglis, Luke Keary, tries; Issac Luke 3 goals)