Nigel Wall,, NRL.com
The Raiders put the Dragons to the sword with a last-gasp 22-18 victory in Round 17 last season, extending their unbeaten stretch of wins over the Red V in Canberra dating back to 2000.
The left side of the field was a popular target for both teams early on, with Raiders winger Edrick Lee scoring next to the corner post to give the home side a 6-nil lead in the 10th minute, before Bronx Goodwin replied in kind for the Dragons to tie the game up in the 23rd minute.
However, a quick double strike from Reece Robinson saw the Raiders head to halftime with a 16-6 advantage; first he stepped his way over on the right edge (36th minute), before some flimsy Dragons defence saw him bust through on a 50-metre dash to the try line (38th minute).
A 40/20 from Jamie Soward put the visitors on the front foot early in the second half, with hooker Mitch Rein capitalising on the good field position to dart his way over from dummy-half for a 16-12 scoreline in the 51st minute.
Incredibly, the Raiders fell for the same trick in the 67th minute, with Rein diving over in front of the sticks for his second try of the night which when converted handed the visitors an 18-16 lead.
However, Dragons fans who’d braved the journey down the Hume Highway to watch their team play in the three-degree Canberra cold had their blood turn to ice when Robinson cut them open on the left edge again, snatching victory with just two minutes left on the clock.
Statistically it was a high-quality encounter, with both teams completing at 88 per cent, while Canberra dominated field position though 83 hit-ups compared to the visitors’ 55.
Tackling wasn’t at the top of the agenda however, with Canberra missing 31 tackles and the Dragons missing 26.
Robinson was clearly best on ground, scoring a hat-trick of tries, offering a try assist, making three line-breaks, five tackle-breaks and 279 metres. Prop Dane Tilse chimed in with 24 hit-ups for 164 metres.
Of the beaten brigade Trent Merrin made 18 runs for 153 metres with three offloads, while winger Daniel Vidot covered 176 metres of territory.