Reece lightning strikes to continue Dragons' Canberra curse
Raiders 22 Dragons 18
Dumped ... Jack De Belin crashes to the turf. Photo: Getty Images
WITCHCRAFT, herbal remedies, tarot cards, maybe even monkey feet?
St George Illawarra may try all of the above when they next visit the nation's capital after their 'Canberra curse' continued with a heartbreaking loss to the Raiders last night.
Shaun Fensom tries to break out of the tackle. Photo: Getty Images
For the second straight year, a late Canberra try left the Dragons players in despair, and scratching their heads on how to solve their jinx.
Led by a superb three-try display from fullback Reece Robinson and an enormous game from prop Dane Tilse, the Raiders extended their winning streak over the Dragons at Canberra Stadium to 10 matches. Robinson provided the polish to guide the injury-ravaged Raiders to their best win of the year.
The Dragons have not won in Canberra since round 20 of 2000, when they beat a side featuring present coach David Furner and his assistants, Andrew McFadden and Justin Morgan.
Reece Robinson stretches out to score a try. Photo: Getty Images
The Robinson show began in the sixth minute, when he had a major hand in the opening try to Raiders winger Edrick Lee.
In the 23rd minute, the Dragons levelled scores at 6-all when a sweeping movement found Bronx Goodwin who crossed in the corner.
With the Dragons beginning to find their feet, the momentum again swung in favour of the hosts when centre Jarrod Croker stripped former Raiders teammate Daniel Vidot of the ball close to the Dragons line. Shortly afterward, Robinson showed brute strength to score after chiming into Canberra's back line.
Just before the break, Robinson scored his second when he outran the Dragons defence in a 70-metre dash after help from halfback Sam Williams and forward Joel Thompson. A 40-20 kick from Jamie Soward gave the Dragons some momentum early in the second half, allowing Mitch Rein to score a soft try from dummy half and get the visitors to within four points. With 12 minutes left, the Raiders inexcusably let Rein dive over again close to the line to give the Dragons an 18-16 lead.
Canberra had a chance to square the ledger when Ben Hornby was penalised for obstructing a Raiders chaser. However, Croker's penalty goal attempt 10 metres inside the right sideline was waved away.
Fittingly, it was Robinson who proved the hero after he completed his hat-trick with three minutes left.
Robinson took a superb late pass from Williams, outstanding in his return at halfback, to inflict a 13th win in the last 14 games over the Dragons.
The performance was a world apart from Canberra's 40-18 loss to North Queensland in Townsville last week.
Prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and second-rower Thompson had a big game for the Raiders. And, in his first match since being recalled following Josh Dugan's injury, Williams pressed his claim for a permanent spot with a fine organising performance.
Dumped by the NSW Origin side during the week, Dragons prop Trent Merrin responded in fine fashion.
Dragons coach Steve Price refused to buy into the hoodoo talk, having previously called it a ''load of crap''.
But captain Hornby conceded it rang true for the Raiders. ''When they play us, they believe they can win and you can't underestimate what belief does for a side,''he said. ''Until we have a win … they're going to have that.''
Price rued the loss, arguing the game was in the bag but for one defensive error.
The Dragons have a bye next week, while the Raiders meet Melbourne at AAMI Park on Saturday.
RAIDERS 22 (R Robinson 3 E Lee tries J Croker 3 goals) bt ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA 18 (M Rein 2 B Goodwin tries J Soward 3 goals) at Canberra Stadium. Referee: Jared Maxwell, Adam Devcich. Crowd: 10,462