Bulldogs v Raiders: Five Key Points
Canterbury's return to their spiritual home ground wasn't enough against a Canberra side now firmly entrenched in the top four.
Jarrod Croker starred in the 22-8 win, scoring 18 of his side's points, while the Bulldogs lost centre Chase Stanley to injury in what was his 100th game in the NRL.
Stanley's milestone match ruined by yet another injury
Monday night's encounter was meant to be a celebration for Bulldogs centre Chase Stanley.
But his 100th NRL game ended prematurely after sustaining a hamstring injury late in the first half.
The 26-year-old has had a horrible run of injuries throughout his career, and scenes from the dressing rooms at half-time showed the emotional toll the latest setback had had on the unlucky centre.
"He's done a hamstring. He'll have that scanned but it's not good. He'll miss a couple of weeks," Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said.
The news didn’t get any better for the Raiders, with veteran back-rower Iosia Soliola forced from the field in the first half with a broken arm.
Soliola left Belmore with his arm in a sling, and is set for an extended stint on the sidelines.
"We've got to go get some scans, but they think he's broken his arm," Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said.
"We'll miss 'Sia'. He's the backbone to a lot of our work, and someone has to step up and now and take his duties. Bad luck creates opportunity."
Canberra's forwards win the battle of the big men
Monday night's clash was always going to come down to which forward pack could win the ruck.
In a battle littered with representative talent on both sides, the Raiders came out on top, out-running the Bulldogs by nearly 300 metres.
In fact, James Graham was the only starting Bulldogs forward to break the 100-metre barrier, while Frank-Paul Nuuausala led the way for the Green Machine with 129 metres of his own.
"I thought they played well. I thought all our big men played well," Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker said.
"It was one of those sorts of games where it was physical. It always is against the Bulldogs.
"You've got to match them up front and I thought our boys did pretty well. The challenge continues next week [against Parramatta]. They're a big pack and we've got to ice our bumps and bruises and move on."
Bulldogs not quite on their game
Coach Des Hasler admitted his Bulldogs were slightly off their game on Monday night and that was enough to cost them the two competition points.
"I thought we were a bit off tonight, which is disappointing at our home ground and for our fans," Hasler said.
"The boys are generally disappointed, but that's the nature of the competition. You've only got to be a little bit off and you can get done.
"Certainly consistency is a really key part of it. We've got to get our heads around that. We know that."
Bulldogs skipper James Graham blamed his side's poor start for the loss, saying the early 14-point deficit was always going to be tough to chase down.
"We probably didn't get out of the blocks as well as we would have liked. Canberra really did and we didn't. One thing led to another and we found ourselves in a poor position."
Raiders overcome Belmore hoodoo
Canberra's 14-point win on Monday night was their first at Belmore since 1990, and just their third overall from 17 attempts.
In what was their first game at the venue since 1998, the Raiders shot out to an early 14-0 lead, effectively taking the crowd out of the contest.
Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker told NRL.com it was special to get a win at a place that held such historical importance.
"It's always tough against the Bulldogs in general," Croker said.
"I know for myself and probably most of the boys it was their first time being here. It was a great atmosphere, a great environment and to come away with the two points is a good effort from the lads."
Hopoate keeps the streak alive
Bulldogs fullback Will Hopoate has made the most of his move to Belmore, scoring his fifth try in as many games for his new club.
His 68th-minute try breathed life into the contest, but ultimately wasn't enough to get his side home.
The former Eel has now run for over 100 metres in four straight games, but more importantly, has scored in every match he has played since donning the blue and white jersey.