Canberra have consolidated their place in the NRL’s top eight with a come-from-behind 32-20 win over an under-strength Canterbury at GIO Stadium.
Down 10-0 after less than 20 minutes and being outmuscled by the Bulldogs on a cold Sunday afternoon, the Raiders fought back late in the second half with four unanswered tries, including a double to youngster Joseph Tapine.
While a shadow of the side that beat the blue and white at Belmore in April, they found enough spark to topple the Bulldogs for a second time in 2016.
Not since 2008 have the Raiders defeated Canterbury twice in one season.
The victory pushes them to sixth on the ladder and just three points outside the top four.
The Bulldogs were without four of their biggest names, with Josh Morris, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer on NSW State of Origin duties and Mormon Will Hopoate out for religious reasons.
But that didn’t stop them dominating the opening hour of the match, with Morris’ last-minute replacement, Reimis Smith, scoring a double on debut.
The newphew of former NRL star Anthony Mundine played 80 minutes in the NSW Cup on Saturday and backed it up with an impressive maiden appearance in first grade, including a try off his first touch.
But it was overshadowed by the Raiders’ surprising fightback, which has been a hallmark of their season.
They went into the break 14-10 and were soon behind 20-10, but Tapine’s first effort in the 58th minute turned things around.
Edrick Lee scored moments later to lock the score at 20-20 before Sia Soliola, who’s back after recovering from a broken arm, scored the match-winner in the 69th minute.
Tapine then sealed the victory with his second try while there was less than two minutes to go.
A hamstring injury to Lee soured the win, and Bulldogs big man Sam Kasiano suffered a similar injury.
The Bulldogs next face Cronulla on Monday week, while the Raiders host Manly on Friday night.