Raiders put scrappy Souths to the sword
Canberra have kept their very dim finals hopes alive for another week with a comprehensive 32-18 win over a disappointing Rabbitohs outfit at ANZ Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Canberra's hopes of six straight wins to finish the year and book an unlikely finals berth got off to a great start with the team rarely troubled in disposing of an error-riddled Rabbitohs.
Souths skipper Sam Burgess (ribs) was taken from the field just after half time while impressive second-rower Angus Crichton was sin-binned for a professional foul right as the Bunnies briefly threatened a second half comeback to officially end the contest.
Canberra skipper Jarrod Croker was immense, scoring an early try that pulled him level with club legend Brett Mullins on 105 tries behind only namesake Jason Croker in the Raiders record books, while also kicking six from six.
Souths very nearly had the perfect start when the Raiders made a mess of the opening kick-off and were forced into a drop out but Hymel Hunt failed to ground a perfect Adam Reynolds grubber and the Raiders were off the hook early.
From there Souths continued to be cruelled by poor execution, with their completion rate hovering below 50 per cent for much of the first half and at one stage completing just four sets to their opponents' 11.
In that time Croker scored from a well held up Blake Austin pass and added a penalty goal to make it 8-0 after 17 minutes.
A length-of-the-field set after that goal finished with Robert Jennings fluffing an Aidan Sezer kick allowing Joe Tapine to scoop the ball up and plant it for a 14-0 lead.
The Bunnies' work with the ball improved from there and when Cody Walker won the race to his own attacking grubber in the 26th minute he got his team on the board.
However when Joe Tapine burst through Souths' right-side defence to allow Croker to put Nick Cotric over in the corner, the Green Machine's 14-point advantage was restored and despite a few late scares managed to maintain that lead through to the break.
Back-to-back penalties against the Raiders early in the second half led to the second perfect attacking grubber of the game from Adam Reynolds; an awful attempted grounding from Bryson Goodwin almost let the Raiders off the hook again but his airs-wing allowed Tyrell Fuimaono to pounce.
At 20-12 after 50 minutes the contest was well and truly alive but Souths' hopes were dealt a killer blow in the 58th minute as a long-range Cotric line break ended with Crichton making a try-saving tackle but being sent to the bin for holding down too long.
With Crichton off the field Canberra hammered in two quick tries to put paid to the comeback; first Luke Bateman crossed from a nice Hodgson ball from dummy half before former Penrith winger Michael Oldfield in his club debut made it two tries in as many games for as many clubs in 2017 when he cashed in from a great Aidan Sezer cut-out pass.
Alex Johnston scored right on full time from a Bryson Goodwin line break and chip ahead but it did little to cheer the 9,112-strong home crowd.
Canberra Raiders 32 (Croker, Tapine, Cotric, Bateman, Oldfield tries; Croker 6 goals) defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 18 (Walker, Fuimaono, Jonhston tries; Reynolds 3 goals) at ANZ Stadium. Half time: Raiders 20-6. Crowd: 9,112.
NRL.com unofficial votes: 3 points - Jarrod Croker; 2 points - Josh Hodgson; 1 point - Joseph Tapine.