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The Raiders have overcome a lacklustre start and scrappy 80 minutes to edge past the Dragons and move – at least temporarily – to seventh on the NRL ladder.

While pleased with the result, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart launched an impassioned plea for NRL to amend the six-again dilemmas that have allowed teams to fly off their line when opposition sides are coming off their own line.

"The worst rule we've got in the game is the inconsistency in six-again for jumping early yet there is so many of them," Stuart said.

Stuart says the game needs to revert to a penalty for offside because a set restart on play one is an insufficient penalty for teams jumping well offside early in yardage sets.

"I was all for six agains for a number of parts of interpretation around the ruck, especially the wrestle," he added.

"This jumping early, it's too inconsistent and it's not the referees' fault. They can't get it all right.

"You can't get a team for jumping early then the next set the opposition's jumping early and nothing's done. It makes it so hard for teams.

"We talk about momentum in games, you can't get momentum back when you've got inconsistency in that regard and it's very difficult for the referee."

The Green Machine trailed 8-0 early but levelled up late in the first half and claimed a lead they never relinquished early in the second, despite being on the wrong end of almost every statistical category in the opening 40 minutes.

Wighton beats Lomax in the kick contest

A reliable kicking performance from Sam Williams with a few individual pieces of brilliance from Tom Starling, Jack Wighton and Harley Smith-Shields created three tries in an otherwise unconvincing outing from Ricky Stuart's men.

Stuart was happy that a few players, including Williams, stood up in key moments. 

"You need players owning moments, especially coming into the back end of the season," he said.

"That's one thing we didn't have last week, players owning any moments and tonight there was a couple. That's what your job is and it was just nice to get the two points."

The win moved the Raiders into the top eight, although they could yet finish the round in ninth if the Titans and Sharks both win.

The Dragons are still just a win outside the eight but sit in 11th with a very tough run home and a huge uphill battle to make the finals from here.

They also had to deal with the loss of centre Cody Ramsey less than a minute into the game after an accidental head clash with teammate Andrew McCullough left him with a bloody mouth and ruled out of the game due to a failed HIA.

Smith-Shields taps it back in for Rapana

A Josh Papalii error on his own 30 handed the Dragons the first attacking chance of the game, which they took via Corey Norman's perfect cut-out pass to Mat Feagai.

Another Raiders error and a high-contact penalty, that left Jordan Rapana on report, handed Zac Lomax an easy shot at making it an 8-0 lead in the 17th minute.

Feagai eventually returned the favour to Canberra with an error coming out of yardage and a stunning bat-back from Harley Smith-Shields off an Elliott Whitehead grubber handed Rapana an easy finish.

The Dragons quickly pulled away again as halfback Adam Clune made a clean break for a supporting Tariq Sims to touch down. But Lomax missed the tough conversion then soon afterward was out-jumped by Jack Wighton to an attacking Sam Williams bomb for the Raiders to level up (12-12) shortly before the break.

The Raiders did well to even up given they finished the half with twice as many errors and missed tackles, less possession and on the wrong side of a 4-0 line-break count.

Canberra fullback Jordan Rapana.
Canberra fullback Jordan Rapana. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Another Feagai error put the Raiders on the attack early in the second stanza with Tom Starling sneaking a try from dummy half to put his side up for the first time in the match. 

Both sides struggled to do anything with their attacking chances until the Raiders eventually opted to put their lead out beyond a converted try, when Lomax came up with a high tackle straight after a Sam Williams 40/20.

Papalii was denied a try after cleaning up the scraps from a Williams bomb with Wighton getting a fingertip knock-on in the contest but it mattered little as the Raiders held on for the win.

Sims, Jack De Belin, Lomax, Rapana and Emre Guler were all placed on report for dangerous or high tackles.


Press Conference: Raiders v Dragons - Round 21, 2021

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