St George Illawarra's season on the brink after 36-14 Canberra Raiders drubbing

St George Illawarra's season is on the brink after the Dragons suffered a 36-14 loss to Canberra on Sunday night.

It was one of the Dragons' worst performances of the season as they were well beaten by the Raiders who climb above the Sydney Roosters into third on the NRL table.

St George Illawarra's 10th defeat of the campaign saw them slump to 14th place only above struggling Canterbury and the Gold Coast.

While they are only four points out of the top eight it is the number of teams now between them and the semi-finals that is the biggest concern.

On this performance the Dragons are not even close to being a finals team, with the Raiders playing a quarter of the game with only 12 men after Nick Cotric's sending off - with Canberra winning that period 10-4.

While all four of St George Illawarra's State of Origin representatives were able to back up, the quartet could do little to spark the poor Dragons as Canberra went on to score their second biggest ever win over St George Illawarra.

Almost everything that could go wrong for the Dragons did go wrong. Jeremy Latimore was forced off with a twisted knee and Euan Aitken was lost briefly to a head injury assessment.

Then there was Corey Norman's missed conversion at the start of the second half from almost directly in front of the posts that thudded into the left-hand upright. It summed up St George Illawarra's performance.

A brave 9,000 fans turned up on a cold, windy night in Wollongong to watch Canberra take an early lead through Cotric and Jarrod Croker tries with Croker's effort making him the Raiders' all-time leading try-scorer.

Joseph Tapine's try four minutes before half-time gave Canberra a 16-0 lead at the break and the Dragons staring down the barrel of another deflating defeat.

Bailey Simonsson extended the advantage to 20-0 with a try two minutes into the second half before St George Illawarra finally hit back with tries to Korbin Sims and Luciano Leilua.

But almost immediately, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad scored for Canberra to reassert their lead.

The game changed just before the hour mark with Cotric's sending off for what was almost an old-fashioned spear tackle. Cotric lifted Tim Lafai awkwardly with the Dragons centre landing on the back of his neck. Cotric was the first player sent off in the NRL this season and the first since Melbourne's Curtis Scott last season.

With Canberra down to 12 men the momentum appeared all with the Dragons. But with 20 minutes to go it was the Raiders who lifted again.

Tries to Siliva Havili and Klokstad's second sealed the result for the under-manned Raiders before Matt Dufty's late consolation for the red V.

With just eight rounds of the regular season remaining, it's possible the Dragons may need to win at least seven of their final eight games just to sneak into the finals.

Captain Gareth Widdop's return from a serious shoulder injury can't come soon enough for the Dragons. The only question is whether or not it will come too late to save their season.

Leader Scoreboard

Canberra Raiders 36 (Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad two, Nick Cotric, Jarrod Croker, Joseph Tapine, Bailey Simonsson, Siliva Havili tries. Jarrod Croker four goals)

defeated

St George Illawarra Dragons 14 (Korbin Sims, Luciano Leilua, Matt Dufty tries. Tim Lafai goal)

at WIN Stadium, Wollongong

Crowd: 9,159

Leader man of the match: Josh Hodgson (Raiders)

Dragons' next three: Panthers (away), Rabbitohs (away), Eels (home - Kogarah)

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