Wighton struggles as Dragons down Raiders

George ClarkeAAP
St George Illawarra have held off Canberra 12-10 to secure an important NRL win in Wollongong.
Camera IconSt George Illawarra have held off Canberra 12-10 to secure an important NRL win in Wollongong. Credit: AAP

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart refused to condemn referee Peter Gough after the Raiders were denied a penalty in front of the goalposts in the dying moments of their 12-10 NRL loss to St George Illawarra.

Joe Tapine was tackled five metres out from the St George Illawarra line with six seconds left but Dragons utility Jack Bird and captain Ben Hunt deliberately laid over the top of the Raiders prop.

While signalling a six-again to restart the tackle count, Gough failed to award Canberra a penalty to potentially tie the game up when Hunt dashed out from marker from an offside position to shut down Raiders hooker Tom Starling and end the game.

The victory in front of 7069 fans at Wollongong's WIN Stadium on Sunday moves the Dragons into eighth spot and leaves the Raiders languishing four points behind them in 11th.

"I've only seen it once (and) I only need to see it once," a tight-lipped Stuart said.

"Tomorrow I'll get an apology or I'll get justification of there not being a penalty.

"We set ourselves up to win that game with a really tough grind."

Raiders captain Elliott Whitehead could be seen remonstrating with Gough at fulltime but his appeals fell on deaf ears.

"I best not make a comment because it'll come back on me," Whitehead said.

"It shouldn't come down to that (last play), we're a better team than that. We let ourselves down and made too many errors."

One of the main culprits who undid the Raiders hard work was five-eighth Jack Wighton, who is expected to be named in the NSW State of Origin squad on Monday.

Wighton struggled to impose himself on the game - his first since missing State of Origin II with COVID-19 - making four errors and enduring a torrid time with the boot in horrendous conditions.

The 29-year-old gifted the Dragons their first try of the afternoon when he tapped a short dropout back into the hands of Talatau Amone and also failed to make touch from a penalty kick with the game in the balance.

Amone's 18th minute try and one on the stroke of halftime to Moses Suli were enough to get the Dragons home.

Xavier Savage scored in the first half for Canberra with Hudson Young making it 12-10 in the 54th minute.

Wighton's errors proved costly for Canberra's hopes of getting a winner but they did get one last crack at the Dragons' line, only for Hunt and Bird to slow Tapine down and kill the game.

"I was briefly worried when I jumped on him (Starling)," said Hunt.

"I was half- panicking, I was the left side half and I was tackling on the right side so I had to do something. I was quite happy he didn't blow up."

A thigh injury to Mat Feagai was the only concern for the Dragons, who face Brisbane next Sunday.

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