Joel Edwards was brilliant in defence for the Raiders.
CANBERRA RAIDERS 30 (Reece Robinson 2, Dane Tilse, Anthony Milford, Jack Wighton tries; Jarrod Croker 5 goals) bt SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS 18 (Dylan Walker, George Burgess, Chris McQueen tries; Adam Reynolds 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium on Sunday. Referees: Jared Maxwell and Grant Atkins. Crowd: 16,032
STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
NRL round four: Rabbitohs v Raiders
Dane Tilse of the Raiders celebrates with teammates after scoring a try. Photo: Getty Images
As brilliant as he is, there’s no doubt Canberra has been guilty of passing to star fullback Anthony Milford too much this season. Last week against Gold Coast they tried to go around the defence instead of through it. Against Souths they played straighter and with more direction, turning to Milford more sparingly. It caught Souths off guard. They would have done plenty of homework on the 19-year-old getting plenty of ball. Milford still managed a try and a try assist, and would have set up another had Bill Tupou not dropped the ball over the line.
MINISTERS FOR DEFENCE
It has been Canberra's Achilles heel in recent years, but Ricky Stuart has done a tremendous job transforming the Raiders' attitude in defence. They missed just two tackles for the first half, a statistic which would have been unheard of the past two years. Back-rower Joel Edwards, in particular, was inspirational, pulling off a series of huge hits, including a bell-ringer on Ben Te’o late in the first half. They rushed up on Souths and their kicking game starved Greg Inglis of decent opportunities.
Shaun Fensom reacts after injuring his elbow against Souths.
FENSOM INJURY SOURS WIN
Shaun Fensom is one of the toughest men in the game, so concerns were immediately raised when he hit the turf in agony late in the first half. The lock has been diagnosed with a grade-one elbow ligament injury, which would be a relief after early fears he had broken his forearm. The two-time Mal Meninga medallist will be a huge loss in coming weeks, but the Raiders are well positioned to replace him. Prop Paul Vaughan was very strong at lock against Gold Coast last week when Fensom was out suspended, and he’s likely to return to the No.13 jersey. Former representative prop Tom Learoyd-Lahrs returned from a foot injury in NSW Cup on Saturday, and could be a candidate to return against Penrith next week. Joel Edwards also left the field with concussion, meaning Canberra could be without its entire starting back row of Edwards, Fensom and Josh Papalii next week.
HUGE ISSUES FOR SOUTHS
South Sydney have got one of the best rosters in the game, but rumours there is a rift in the team weren’t helped by a very lethargic and dispirited first half. Souths committed eight errors in the first half, and were booed from the field by their fans at half-time. Worryingly for the Rabbitohs, not only were they outplayed by the Raiders, they were totally out-enthused.
JEKYLL AND HYDE
Lose a game they are expected to win, cause a boilover the next. It’s a similar story for Canberra Raiders' fans. Last week, they began strong favourites at home against Gold Coast, but succumbed 24-12. On Sunday, they not only upset Souths, they made them look second rate in building a 22-0 half-time lead. They recovered from the loss of Fensom and Edwards to post what could prove a season-defining win.