The Canberra Raiders NYC Team has completed an incredible last minute victory over the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium.
With Canberra trailing by four points with just over five minutes remaining, the young side was able to score two tries late through Brenko Lee and Lachlan Hurst to snatch the victory from the Rabbitohs.
Canberra started the game well and were dominant in field position early, but another error close to the try line cost them what looked to be a good opportunity. Souths nearly made them pay, but Ricky Garard made an incredible tackle in the 8th minute stopping an almost certain try for Rabbitohs centre Tom Hughes.
This inspired the Raiders as they went the length of the field on the next set, and big forward Tevita Pangai Junior gave the young Raiders the lead. Pangai Junior charged over two Souths players to score in the 10th minute. Mago made the conversion and the Raiders had a handy 6-0 lead early.
Canberra were given the perfect opportunity to score back to back tries. However Brenko Lee made the error on the line as he offloaded near the line, and it was intercepted by the Rabbitohs defence.
It didn’t hurt the Raiders as the Rabbitohs made another mistake 20 out from their own line.
The Raiders then shifted the ball wide, with Hurst picking one off his boot laces to score, following a nice cut out pass from Garard. Mago struck the uprights with his kick and Canberra had the 10-0 lead in the 15th minute.
Coach Mick Mantelli put an emphasis on defence before the game, and he wouldn’t have been pleased when Irae Simone was able to beat three Raiders defenders and score in the 21st minute. He converted his own try, and the margin was back to four points despite the Raiders’ early dominance.
Garard was the impressive player early for the Raiders, he managed to take a low kick cleanly on his own line, beat three Rabbitohs defenders, and streak 95 metres down the sideline to score under the posts in the 25th minute. Mago made the conversion and the lead was back out to 10 points.
Canberra conceded five minutes from half time as Davidson scored, after the Raiders’ rushed up in defence. Simone converted the try, and the margin was back to four points.
Luck was in Souths favour, as a Kilu Pangai charge down led to a Hughes breakaway try right on half time, Simone converted the try to give Souths an 18-16 lead at half time.
Canberra were the first to score in the 2nd half, Pangai Junior showed his skills with some fleet footwork close to the line. He managed to get a pass away to Jack Creith who scored in the corner, Mago was unable to convert the tough kick, but the Raiders were ahead 20-18 in the 47th minute.
Souths had plenty of opportunities to score early in the 2nd half, but Pangai Junior and Luke Bateman led a strong defensive effort from the Raiders. Bateman was particularly good in the first half laying 16 tackles.
The Raiders’ defensive line was finally broken following repeat sets on the Canberra line, Taylam Halls crossed under the posts in the 56th minute. Simone converted the try and Souths were back in the lead 24-20 with just over twenty minutes remaining in the match.
Garard sparked another comeback for the Raiders, after he was able to break away out of dummy half, beating three Souths’ defenders, managing to offload for Scott Doyle, who passed to Jared McIlwrick and he found Hurst was able to get his double in the corner. Mago made the pressure kick from the sideline and the Raiders took a 26-24 lead in the 63rd minute.
Another Raider error allowed Souths back in the game, and Tulsa Saumamao scored the try to put the Rabbitohs back in front. Simone converted the try to give the Rabbitohs a 30-26 lead with ten minutes to go.
Creith showed some silky handling, with a quick no look pass to find Lee in the corner who scored to tie the game, Mago missed the difficult conversion and it was all tied up at 30 all with five minutes remaining.
Canberra looked to have scored the winner through Lee, but Creith’s last pass was forward, the Raiders sensed the game was on the line and their intensity in defence was evident.
Moments later the Raiders’ took the lead in the 79th minute. Pangai Junior was able to offload to McIlwrick who found Hurst who managed to score in the corner. Mago missed the conversion, but it didn’t matter as Souths were unable to get back in time for the kick off.
In a match where the momentum continually swung, the Raiders best players were Hurst who scored a hat-trick, Pangai Junior who continually created chances in attack, Bateman who was consistently good in defence, and Garard who continually managed to create a spark for the Raiders in attack.
Canberra Raiders 34 defeated South Sydney Rabbitohs 30:
Canberra Tries: Hurst 3, Pangai Junior, Garard, Creith, Lee; Goals: Mago 3/6
Rabbitohs Tries: Simone, Davidson, Hughes, Halls, Saumamao; Goals; Simone 5/5