Wayne Bennett’s take on latest Raiders loss

Danielle Vidot gets a late ball away. David Shillington comes under pressure from the Dragons. Pictures: KARLEEN MINNEY
Nanjing Night Net

Coach Wayne Bennett has promised there will be no psychological fallout from another loss by St George Illawarra to Canberra in the national capital yesterday.Stretching their Canberra Stadium winning streak over the Dragons to 10 years and eight consecutive wins, the Raiders piled on six second-half tries in an emphatic 32-16 victory.Last year the Green Machine were full of grit and barge in a strong-arm performance that derailed the Dragons’ premiership campaign. Full coverage of the Dragons Yesterday, it was an effort full of breathtaking skill that delivered four tries in eight minutes to deny the competition leaders victory and stop them from securing the minor premiership, at least for now.But Bennett dismissed comparisons to last year’s devastating loss, declaring the Dragons had suffered an intensity let-down on the back of rugged recent victories over Manly and the Roosters.”I expected a flat spot,” Bennett said.”You can’t go and play Manly last week and the Roosters the week before [without one].”And [we had] the Broncos the week before that up in Brisbane, the list just goes on for us in the last five weeks.”We’ve been on our game and we’ve been trying extremely hard.”We were a bit off the pace here today and we hung in good and we were gutsy to half-time, but they played just about the perfect second half.”Canberra trailed 4-0 at the break, only because of some desperate Dragons defence which denied them on several occasions, but winger Daniel Vidot put the Raiders on the board when he scored in the corner on 49 minutes.It signalled the start of a Raiders onslaught which saw them score four tries in eight minutes, including breathtaking runaway efforts from fullback Josh Dugan and second-rower Joe Picker.The floodgates had suddenly opened, after the Raiders went to half-time wondering how they were going to break them.St George Illawarra produced a mini-revival when Mark Gasnier (70th minute) and Neville Costigan (72nd) crossed to close the gap from 22 points to 26-16.But replacement hooker Glen Buttriss darted over with three minutes left to seal victory for Canberra.The heat remains on the Dragons in the minor premiership race with two rounds remaining, after Wests Tigers hung on to beat Parramatta yesterday at Parramatta Stadium.And the Gold Coast have the chance to join the Tigers on 32 competition points, two behind the Dragons, if they beat the Roosters in Sydney tonight.Bennett said St George Illawarra’s focus would be on regrouping for Saturday night’s showdown with Newcastle and not capturing the JJ Giltinan Shield for a second successive year.”It would be nice [the minor premiership], but we’re in a great position,” he said.”We’ve just got to go home and get ourselves refocused a little bit and recognise the things that work for us.”And not the things that make us look like any other team and that’s what we were in the second half today, just another footy team,” he admitted.

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