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Celebrations on ice for rampant Raiders
Crystal Ja
13:31 AEST Sat Aug 25 2012

They claimed the biggest scalp of the NRL season, but Canberra coach David Furner insists celebrations will be kept on the back burner until finals are a certainty.

The Raiders' 34-6 demolition job on ladder leaders Canterbury on Friday night pushed them into seventh place and gives an odds-on chance of playing their first finals campaign since 2010.

All they need is a victory against the Warriors next Sunday to lock it up, although even if they lose, they could still make it if certain results fall their way.

It's an almost unfathomable scenario given their status just five weeks ago.

They had just lost to Newcastle 36-6 - another embarrassment of a home game - to all but dash their finals dreams.

But placed on what Furner called the "sudden death" chopping block, the Raiders fought back, winning their next four in the row against Brisbane, Penrith and Sydney and now the Bulldogs.

It was inspired play against Des Hasler's men, with their much maligned defence - they missed just 17 tackles to Canterbury's 29 - getting stronger as the night wore on.

Three-try wonder Sandor Earl said he and some of his younger teammates had treated it as one of the games of their careers, with talk about it being the Raiders' "grand final".

Furner had said they'd have to be at their very best to take down the No.1 team - and admitted afterwards they'd come mighty close.

"It was a real rounded performance by the players," he said.

"It's very hard to single out one player, but if we get that sort of attitude, that commitment, we get very close to winning games."

In sub-zero temperatures, 13,150 mostly local fans were rewarded for venturing out.

While the last home match of the regular season, it's not unthinkable that the Raiders could finish sixth and get a home final.

Furner sought to temper the excitement, noting nothing's certain yet.

"We've got a job to do in that last round game," he said.

"That's to guarantee us a spot.

"It's in our hands, it's in our destiny and that's what we need to focus on."

Canterbury, who rested captain Michael Ennis for the match, were left licking their wounds after letting a chance to wrap up the minor premiership go begging.

Also gone was their 12-match winning streak, with Hasler admitting fundamental errors wreaked havoc with their game plan.

The Bulldogs host the Roosters at ANZ Stadium next Saturday.


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