A hat-trick to stand-in captain Brett Morris helped St George Illawarra to smash a 14-season hoodoo in the nation’s capital with a 34-16 NRL victory over Canberra on Saturday.
Ex-Raiders bad boy Josh Dugan also haunted his former club in the win, picking up a try and 117 metres in his first game back at Canberra Stadium since being shown the door for a string of off-field indiscretions last year.
It was the Dragons’ first win at Canberra Stadium in 14 seasons, and just their third against the Green Machine in their past 20 outings.
More importantly, it also keeps the Dragons’ finals hopes alive, snapping a two-game losing streak to leave themselves just one win outside the top eight.
Despite the blown out scoreline, the visitors had to do it tough, and were dealt a big blow before kickoff when captain Ben Creagh was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
And the Raiders weren’t short of spark, with fullback Jordan Rapana impressing in his first home game with 147 metres and a try.
The Raiders also started strongly, opening the scoring after just two minutes when Josh Papalii barnstormed his way over from a set play.
But the Dragons hit back immediately through winger Morris, who burrowed his way over from dummy-half in the corner to trail 6-4, before crossing again from an overlap midway through the first half.
The Raiders earned a 12-10 lead into the break when livewire five-eighth Anthony Milford found open space and put Rapana over for his first try for the Raiders.
They then extended that lead after the break when Raiders centre Jarrod Croker picked up his 17th try of the season.
But the Dragons weren’t done, and it was an ex-Raiders player who showed them the way.
After receiving a frosty reception, Dugan powered over in the 50th minute to narrow the gap to two points.
Dragons centre Peter Mata’utia then crossed to steal a two-point lead, before Jason Nightingale jagged a pinpoint cross-field kick from Benji Marshall to go up 24-16 with 17 minutes to go.
Morris then picked up his third, and Nightingale his second, with the duo scoring spectacular acrobatic tries in the corner within minutes of each other to put the icing on the cake.
Meanwhile, Raiders interchange Mitch Cornish was put on report for a crusher tackle on Morris in the second half.