Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said his side answered a call to arms as they produced one of their gutsiest performance in years to beat the Canterbury Bulldogs 26-10 at GIO Stadium on Thursday night.
The home side's first victory of the season saw them finish with just 13 fit players after Ata Hingano, Michael Oldfield, Aidan Sezer and Sam Williams all failed to finish the match.
Williams could miss several weeks with a suspected grade two medial ligament strain.
However, Stuart said the performance from his side was exactly the reaction he was looking for after he called them "soft" following their round four loss.
"It was nice for me as a coach that I see every day the grind and the effort coming out in what I can remember as one of the toughest wins I've been involved with," Stuart said.
"The adversity we were under at half-time with three HIA's that weren't going to come back onto the field, I asked them for extra effort and it's amazing how they got through that period of 40 minutes and we still played footy.
"We know deep down what we're about and what the jumper is about. I've never been prouder of the effort."
Raiders captain Jarrod Croker, who helped seal the victory with two second-half tries, rated the win as one of the highlights of his time as captain.
"As a captain, it's probably my proudest win," Croker said.
Match: Raiders v Bulldogs
Round 5 -
Venue: GIO Stadium
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"It's only one win and we've got a long way to go, but I was speaking to my wife this morning and thought 'how special it is going to be when we win'.
"It was a really good feeling out there that last 15 to 20 minutes when we felt like nothing could beat us.''
Nick Cotric starred at fullback in a late switch after the withdrawal of Jack Wighton following the birth of his second child.
Aidan Sezer also shouldered the pressure of Williams' absence well, as he helped guide the Raiders through the final 20 minutes, a period which cost them the first three games of the season.
"Aidan had a major contribution in the result of that game, he was balanced in his performance, he was tactical, and I believe he owned it [the game]," Stuart said.
Despite the win the side will be sweating on the scans on Williams' knee, along with concussion tests for Ata Hingano and Michael Oldfield after they were taken from the field after heavy tackles.