Former Raiders player Josh Dugan gets a varied reaction from the crowd after scoring a try. Photo: Graham Tidy
He was public enemy No.1 and fans were encouraged to boo him at every opportunity, but former Raiders star Josh Dugan had the last laugh in his much-hyped return to the ACT.
In his first game at Canberra Stadium since he was sacked from the Raiders for that infamous rooftop incident with a pineapple Cruiser, Dugan crossed for a try as the Dragons snapped their 14-year hoodoo with a 34-16 victory on Saturday.
At the full-time siren, Dugan turned to the contingent of Dragons fans behind the goals at the Southern end, pumping his fists in a display of the emotion connected with his comeback.
NRL: Raiders v Dragons
Action from the game between the Raiders and Dragons at GIO Stadium. Photo: Graham Tidy
Dugan posed for photos and shook hands with supporters before he left the ground, but declined requests to talk to the media.
It was left to stand-in Dragons captain Brett Morris to assess Dugan's performance and that also of another former Raiders player, second-rower Joel Thompson. Thompson could be heading back to the Raiders next season and was seen in discussion with chief executive Don Furner after the game.
"[Dugan] was very excited about coming down here and playing, he knew he was going to get a fair reception,'' Morris said.
"I thought it was probably one of the better games he's played. He did all the tough stuff. He knew they were going to be out there to try and bash him, but he didn't shy away from it once.''
Raiders giant Josh Papalii ran straight through Dugan for the opening try, while Jarrod Croker and Edrick Lee combined to put a big hit on their former teammate. But Dugan got his own back when he scored in the right-hand corner early in the second half, and had another try disallowed late in the game.
Dugan burst on to the scene as a part of the Raiders' premiership-winning under-20s team in 2008, then the following year shared the club's player of the year award with forward Josh Miller in his debut NRL season. But his time at the Raiders ended last year after a photo of the South Tuggeranong Knights junior emerged on social media drinking on a rooftop with with ex-teammate Blake Ferguson.