A penalty goal after the full-time siren by rising star Lachlan Croker has seen the Canberra Raiders snatch at 34-32 victory from the hands of the Cronulla Sharks in the opening round of the Holden Cup in 2015.
Croker, who had spent the pre-season training with the NRL squad and featured in the Auckland Nines and the Storm trial, has clearly reaped the benefits of learning under Ricky Stuart and training alongside the likes of Jarrod Croker and Shaun Fensom and is shaping up for a bumper season.
The Raiders were in fact trailing 32-26 with just six minutes remaining until three moments of brilliance by Croker turned around the side’s fortunes.
Firstly, Croker took the line on in the 74th minute and threw a sublime short ball to back-rower Jack Williams who burst through to score from ten metres out on the right-hand edge.
Trailing by two points and with the crowd giving him all sorts of grief, Croker then calmly slotted the conversion to level scores at 32 apiece.
Then in the final minute of play, the Raiders were awarded a penalty 32 metres out from in front of the uprights.
Just as he had done so previously five minutes earlier, Croker stepped up to the mark with confidence and poise and despite the thousands of voices in the crowd urging him to miss, the talented halfback slotted the penalty goal and delivered victory for the Green Machine.
The Raiders look to be in for a very promising season although it is clear that there is a lot of improvement left in the side.
Canberra looked good from early on in the fixture with two quick-fire tries to wingers Thomas Cronan and Cameron Booth although the Sharks fought back to lead 16-8 at the halfway mark.
Interchange forward Connor Purcell opened the scoring for the Raiders in the second half before both sides traded tries – including a double to centre Chevi Ellis - before Croker’s eventual heroics.