Canberra’s casualty ward has picked up another patient in Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad before the Raiders’ resilience again shone through in an 18-12 win over South Sydney.
The Raiders’ fullback suffered a sickening injury in Saturday night’s NRL victory, with a suspected compounded dislocation of the little finger on his left hand.
He was one of two Raiders fullbacks to finish the game off the field, with Jordan Rapana also forced off due to a late head clash after moving back to deputise at No.1.
Nicoll-Klokstad is expected to be out for at least a fortnight, becoming the eighth player from their first-choice 17 in Canberra’s casualty ward.
But just as they did last week against the Sydney Roosters, the Raiders proved they do not care for those who question their title credentials with a mounting injury toll.
“That’s the character of the club, being able to hang in there tonight the way we did,” Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said.
“We’ve got another one out now, but we’ll just keep punching.
“We’ll find someone else to come in and roll their sleeves up and take that role.”
There is some light at the end of the tunnel for Canberra, who despite their wretched injury problems now sit fifth in the table.
John Bateman and Curtis Scott are both in with a chance of returning next week against North Queensland.
Recruit Corey Harawira-Naera will also be available when he passes NRL biosecurity checks.
“John is very close, but I’ll leave that to our doctor,” Stuart said.
“I’ll make that decision (of when Harawira-Naera plays) when I know how fit he is.
“I won’t rush him but the sooner he is available the better it will be for our team.”
South Sydney also had a difficult night at the back, losing Alex Johnston to a concussion in the 17th minute.
But it was the Raiders who handled the setbacks slightly better.
In wet conditions, they scored eight unanswered second-half points to overcome a 12-10 deficit at the break for their second-straight win.
Fijian winger Semi Valemei scored the match winner with his maiden NRL try in just his second match, after Jarrod Croker had earlier kicked the Raiders level via a penalty goal.
Valemei was the beneficiary of an Elliott Whitehead kick out of dummy-half in the 57th minute which rebounded off Campbell Graham’s boot and into the winger’s hands.
The Raiders had earlier started the faster of the two teams, with Nick Cotric and Croker both scoring from Jack Wighton kicks – the second also from a rebound.
Wighton was again great for the Raiders at five-eighth, while Josh Papalii and Dunamis Lui were powerful up front.
The Rabbitohs were gutsy to rebound before making too many errors late in the match to mount a second fightback.
Tom Burgess was impressive in the middle with 176 metres, while Johnston’s injury meant Jack Johns played 53 minutes on debut.
Dane Gagai nabbed a try in the first half, before Adam Reynolds helped them to a 12-10 lead at the break after back-to-back set restarts and a Jaydn Su’A offload.
“We played our hearts out,” coach Wayne Bennett said.
“I was really proud of them with the adversity they played under losing a couple of players.
“A couple of the Raiders’ tries had some luck in them … and a couple of times we were denied a couple of metres short of the tryline.”