Canberra ended Canterbury’s 12-match winning streak on Friday night with a 34-6 belting to inch the Raiders closer to a NRL finals berth.
Winger Sandor Earl scored three tries, Reece Robinson two and fullback Josh Dugan was on fire for the Raiders, who have sneaked into the eight with the win.
They’ve leaped into seventh spot ahead of Brisbane – who lost to Manly 16-6 – and Wests Tigers, who are yet to play this weekend.
Canberra was desperate for a victory to maintain their place in the finals race and the motivation was evident at Canberra Stadium.
They had the game all but wrapped up by the main break, with two tries to Earl, one to Robinson and another to Mark Nicholls giving them what turned out to be an unassailable 24-6 halftime lead.
Canterbury, on the other hand, who hadn’t lost since May, looked beaten from almost the opening play.
It took until the 24th minute for them to even get close to their attacking line, although Kris Keating – aided by some Ben Barba brilliance – ensured some quick success.
It turned out to be their only score for the night.
On the flipside, Canberra’s 34 points was the most the Bulldogs have had scored against them all season.
Leading by 18 points into the second half, Earl and Robinson added one more each to their personal tallies to put the icing on the cake.
The Raiders’ game plan was simple but effective; they strangled the Bulldogs of time with the ball and applied the pressure to force errors.
After Earl and Robinson’s opening tries, they looked like heading towards a certain 18-0 until Dugan dropped the ball as he flew towards the line.
Nevertheless he still took the honours in the battle of the fullbacks against a well-covered Barba.
There were still flashes of brilliance from the Dally M favourite – he set up the Bulldogs’ lone try with a bit of flash side-stepping to send Keating over.
Earl could have finished with even more tries for the night if not for the video referee and some over-enthusiastic passes in front of a vocal home crowd of 13,150.