Canberra proved they are genuine NRL premiership contenders this year in a spirited 22-8 defeat of Canterbury at Belmore Sportsground on Monday night.
In the return of halves Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer from injury, the Raiders dominated their highly fancied opponents to spring a round-five upset at the iconic suburban venue before a boisterous crowd of 13,463.
Captain Jarrod Croker led the way for the visitors with 18 points, including two tries, with Austin, Sezer and Josh Hodgson a capable support cast.
The win was the Raiders’ second in 13 matches at the venue.
The Raiders dominated the big Dogs pack up front and their slick backline took advantage as the Green Machine moved to third on the NRL ladder.
Croker opened the scoring for Canberra in the seventh minute after Sezer put Josh Papalii through the Dogs line and the skipper backed up to stroll over untouched.
The visitors went further ahead in the 12th minute when Jack Wighton pounced on a deft Josh Hodgson kick.
A Sezer penalty kick in the 33rd minute put Canberra further ahead 14-0.
Canterbury finally found the tryline in the 35th minute when Josh Reynolds forced his way over for a halftime score of 14-4.
In a drama-charged second half, the Raiders went further ahead in the 54th minute through a penalty goal after Josh Jackson was sin-binned for a professional foul for slowing down the Raiders play-the-ball in a tryscoring situation.
With the Dogs down to 12 men, Croker crossed for his second try in the 56th minute as the visitors went ahead 22-4.
Hooker Michael Lichaa returned from a knee injury for the Dogs, but Chase Stanley could be set for an extended stint on the sidelines after suffering a leg injury.
Raiders interchange forward Iosia Soliola suffered a suspected fractured forearm in the first half.
There were reports of a bottle being thrown at the Raiders bench from the crowd after Croker’s second try.
Tony Williams could be in trouble with the match review committee over a possible first-half trip on Blake Austin.
Williams, in his 150th NRL game, was put on report with Sam Kasiano for making dangerous contact in a tackle on Wighton.
A Will Hopoate try in the 68th minute was too little too late for the Dogs.