A second half blitz from the Canberra Raiders has seen them post a dominant 48-12 victory over Wests Tigers this afternoon at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Off the back of a brilliant return from Josh Hodgson, Ricky Stuart's side overcame a slender half-time deficit to run in seven unanswered second half tries and hand Wests Tigers their biggest defeat of the year.
It was a nervy start from Tyson Gamble on debut that got the Raiders on the front foot early in the contest with a seven tackle set putting the visitors on the attack. And off the back of a repeat set, Ricky Stuart's side would make their good field position count with Joey Leilua crossing out wide after four minutes.
In blustering conditions, Jarrod Croker was unable to add the extras from out wide, however.
With a vocal home crowd behind them, Wests Tigers would hit back almost immediately as Matt McIlwrick and Chris Lawrence combined for the co-captain's 80th try in Wests Tigers colours before Corey Thompson continued his strong season with a determined effort to score in the following set.
Two conversions from Esan Marsters in the space of three minutes had Wests Tigers up 12-4 and in control of the match — a fact seemingly increased when Blake Austin was sent to the sin bin in the 25th minute.
Despite the man advantage, Wests Tigers were unable to extend their lead even with good field position, with the inclusion of inspirational hooker Hodgson sparking the visitors back to life in attack.
His short ball to Josh Papalii cut the lead to just two, and it could have been more soon after if not for Wests Tigers' scrambling defence — holding out Jarrod Croker from close range to preserve their lead.
A late shot on Austin saw Tim Grant put on report late in the half as both teams came together for a minor melee, but it would not eventuate to any further points for the visitors with Wests Tigers holding a narrow but deserved 12-10 advantage as both teams hit the half-time sheds at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
Coming out of the break, Hodgson would continue to leave his impact on the game in his return from injury with another try assist close to the line — this time finding Joseph Tapine for the easy try.
Darting down the short side, the English international would make it three try involvements in the space of half an hour with his clever play allowing Croker and Nick Cotric to combine for a clever left edge try.
Croker's sound kicking from out wide extended the Raiders lead to 22-12 with 25 minutes still to play.
Friendly fire from co-captain Russell Packer would see Lawrence dazed and helped from the field soon after before a suspected broken arm to Mahe Fonua left the Wests Tigers left edge decimated to injury.
Ivan Cleary's side were vulnerable and the Raiders (read, Hodgson) noticed.
A clever play around the ruck saw the Tapine grab his second before Austin would make it three tries in the space of 10 minutes to blow Canberra's lead out to 20 points in a second half blitz.
The Raiders weren't done, and after having a spectacular length-of-the-field effort cancelled out to an obstruction, the Green Machine would eventually get the green light on the second time of asking — Michael Oldfield diving over in the corner to cap following some slick passing around the ruck.
After a controversial decision from the Bunker denied Shannon Boyd, Canberra would eventually grab their sixth try of the second half with Leilua finishing what he started on the day with his second try.
Croker's straightforward conversion took the lead out to 30 points before Liam Knight added one more in the final minutes to take the Raiders in to ninth spot and ahead of Wests Tigers on the ladder.
Canberra Raiders 48 (Leilua 2, Tapine 2, Papalii, Cotric, Austin, Oldfield, Knight tries; Croker 6/9 goals) def. Wests Tigers 12 (Lawrence, Thompson tries; Marsters 2/2 goals)
Injuries: Chris Lawrence (concussion), Mahe Fonua (arm)