The Canberra Raiders snapped a two-match losing skid with a 22-16 defeat of St George Illawarra at GIO Stadium.
They still have plenty to work on if they want to win a premiership, but the win was Canberra’s fifth of the season and their tradesman-like effort would’ve been encouraging for coach Ricky Stuart after patchy performances over the past month.
St George Illawarra slipped to 2-6 and their top eight prospects remain bleak unless coach Paul McGregor can strike a winning formula.
The Raiders lost a key player in the opening stages with Sia Soliola taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw.
Nick Cotric got the ball rolling for the Raiders with an early try before fellow winger Bailey Simonsson soared above the pack to catch George Williams’ perfectly placed cross-kick and touch down for his team’s second try. Jarrod Croker converted both tries for a 12-0 lead.
Both teams had promising try-scoring opportunities throughout the first half but strong defence and handling errors prevented any change to the score until Williams out-smarted the Dragons’ defence for a solo try beside the posts in the 39th minute. Croker added the extras for an 18-0 half-time lead.
Croker looked to have put the game out of reach when he pounced on Jack Wighton’s grubber for a 22-0 lead with 24 minutes remaining.
Matt Dufty finally opened the Dragons’ account with a 60th-minute try, but Zac Lomax hooked the conversion attempt and it remained 22-4.
The Dragons trimmed the deficit to 12 when Lomax converted his own try with 15 minutes remaining and they grabbed a final try through Dufty with a minute to play, but time ran out on their comeback.