Canberra forward Joseph Tapine with perfect Kiwis tune-up as the Raiders put Tigers to the sword

Josh Hodgson's long-awaited return has ignited Canberra's NRL season, inspiring them to a 48-12 NRL thrashing of the Wests Tigers.

After racking up a series of embarrassing fade outs in the first half of the season, the Raiders recorded their biggest win of 2018 as they ran in nine tries.

English hooker Hodgson proved the catalyst, with the green machine suddenly looking a vastly-improved outfit when he ran onto Campbelltown Stadium midway through Sunday's first half.

In a 46-minute effort, Hodgson set up three tries and proved the glue that his side has been missing all season while he recuperated from a knee reconstruction.

Even after the bunker dubiously denied tries to Jack Wighton and Shannon Boyd, the Raiders scored eight unanswered tries from the 15th minute onwards.

Heading into the representative round, the Raiders are just four points behind the eighth-placed Broncos and look capable of making a charge for the finals.

The Tigers opened up a 12-4 lead and it looked like things were going to get worse for the Raiders when Blake Austin was sin-binned in the 23rd minute.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart responded by injecting Hodgson into the game .

His impact was immediate as he threw a hard, flat pass to Josh Papalii who backed his way over to reduce the Tigers' lead to 12-10 at the break.

And when he produced a sleight of hand to fool the Tigers defensive line, it created room for Joseph Tapine to crash over and give the Raiders the lead.

After being left out of the NSW extended squad for Origin II, young Raiders winger Nick Cotric responded by hitting and spinning over in the corner.

The Raiders sealed the game when Hodgson flicked the ball for Tapine's second try.

Joseph Leilua also brought up a double in the nine-tries-to-two defeat.

There were worrying signs for Tigers coach Ivan Cleary after his side suffered their seventh loss in ninth starts.

Even with Moses Mbye about to arrive on a mid-season switch and the club being linked to their former skipper Robbie Farah, their season has hit a roadblock.

The Tigers also have concerns over Mahe Fonua (suspected broken arm) and Matt McIlwrick (ankle).


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