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Raiders come from behind to beat Bulldogs

NZN 29/05/2016 By Roje Adaimy

Canberra have consolidated their place in the NRL's top eight with a come-from-behind 32-20 win over an under-strength Canterbury on Sunday.

But neither Raiders coach Ricky Stuart nor Bulldogs mentor Des Hasler left GIO Stadium very happy men, although for very different reasons.

Hasler was angry after Josh Morris was called into the NSW State of Origin side on the morning of the clash with the Raiders.

Morris was drafted in to replace the injured Josh Dugan, forcing Hasler to call on a rookie who'd played in reserve grade just 24 hours earlier.

Hasler said it wasn't handled very professionally and reiterated his call for a stand-alone Origin weekend.

"There was a total breakdown in the process," Hasler said.

Morris' replacement, Reimis Smith, was one of the Bulldogs' best, however, scoring a double in his first NRL match.

It was a debut to remember but not enough to hold back a resurgent Raiders outfit, who were down 10-0 after less than 20 minutes and were outmuscled for the opening hour.

The Raiders scored four unanswered tries late in the second half, including a double to youngster Joseph Tapine.

While a shadow of the side that beat the blue and white at Belmore in April, they found enough spark to topple the Bulldogs for a second time in 2016.

Not since 2008 have the Raiders defeated Canterbury twice in one season.

The victory pushes them to sixth on the ladder and just three points outside the top four.

But a realistic Stuart said his team will never realise their full potential unless they play good football for more than 20 minutes.

"We're still not playing well," he said.

"All year we've been making it hard for ourselves at certain parts of the game and then having to climb back and find a number of points.

"If we want to improve, if we want to be a better football team and realise our potential over the next eight to 10 weeks, we've got to play better for longer periods of the game."

The Bulldogs were without four of their biggest names, with Morris, Josh Jackson and David Klemmer on Origin duties and Mormon Will Hopoate out for religious reasons.

Yet they dominated most of the clash, leading 14-10 at halftime and 20-10 with just over 20 minutes to go.

Edrick Lee levelled the scores 20-20 in the 65th minute, before Sia Soliola scored the match-winner and Tapine sealed it with 90 seconds remaining.

"It's a tough one to take," Bulldogs skipper James Graham said.

The win was soured by a hamstring injury to Lee, with Bulldogs big man Sam Kasiano suffering a similar fate.

The Bulldogs next face Cronulla on Monday week, while the Raiders host Manly on Friday night.

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