After suffering two heavy defeats during the last fortnight, the Canberra Raiders Holden Cup side secured their 11th win of the season by defeating the Tigers 36-34 after talented halfback Tre Williams slotted a penalty goal after the full-time siren.
Whilst it looked as though it was going to be another blow out score line, the Raiders managed to weather a couple of quick tries that were put on them early in the first half and the side managed to fight their way into the contest and eventually come away with the win.
Coach Mick Mantelli was happy that the side could get past a couple of terrible losses and rally together towards the end of the game and come away with the two points.
“It’s hard to come back after those types of losses, they leave mental scars but hopefully this win is a stepping stone for us to go further and further,” Mantelli said.
“We’re not that bad a team and that’s what you have to tell the players, you have to sit them down and tell them listen this is good stuff that we do. When we have a couple of tough weeks you have to find a way to get out of it and look to the future and not worry about the past.”
The triumph was larger than just instilling belief back into the side, the scrappy win also secured their position within the top eight and has propelled them closer towards a potential top four finish.
West Tigers were the stronger of the two sides early and they were the first to score points off the back of a big 40/20 kick from five-eighth Te Maire Martin.
With their forwards nearly breaching the Raiders defence, the Tigers saw an overlap on the left edge and the Green Machine were unable to stop centre Obed Karwhin as he dove over the line untouched to give the Tigers the 4-0 lead after five minutes.
Canberra was determined to score the next try and a piece of individual brilliance from young halfback Tre Williams saw them gain the lead.
Off the back of a penalty which piggy-backed Canberra out of their own end, Tre Williams put in a small grubber in behind the Tigers goal line defence to then regather the ball and score under the uprights.
With the conversion successful by Dylan McGrath, the Raiders took a 6-4 after 15 minutes of the first half.
Unfortunately poor defence on the right edge relinquished the lead that Canberra had worked so hard for.
Another raid was sent down the left from the Tigers and Karwhin scored his second try in the 17th minute which was soon followed by a try to Tigers Captain Matthew Woods. Both tries were converted for a 16-6 lead.
Whilst their defence was questionable, when Canberra was in attack they looked determined and managed to score against the run of play.
Lachlan Lewis took the ball from dummy half to then provide a cut out ball to the hard running Kalani Going who scored to keep Canberra in the contest. Another converted try meant Canberra were only four points behind after 27 minutes 16-12.
The Raiders then managed to regain the lead during the last 10 minutes of the first half through more individual brilliance from the backline.
Kody Parsons managed to get the ball early in attack on the left edge, putting on quick footwork and breaking two tackles to score Canberra’s third try of the afternoon. Tre Williams converted to give the Green Machine the lead for the second time in the match 18-16.
In the dying stages of the first half, Canberra extended their lead when a short ball to Daniel Dole saw the hard-running forward burst through an open hole in the goal line defence to score. The kicking remained at an impressive 100% accuracy and the Green Machine went into half-time leading 24-16.
The second half started promisingly for both sides as the defence was strong at both ends of the field, however after 50 minutes the Tigers scored the all-important first points for the half.
Another short ball provided by Martin saw Ray Stone run into a gap in the Raiders line and crawl his way over for a try and Canberra’s lead was whittled down to just two points 24-22.
The Raiders then managed to respond with a well worked try of their own to Chevi Ellis to extend the side’s lead to 28-22 with 20 minutes remaining.
Wests had been looking dangerous on the edges all game and with 15 minutes remaining they again took advantage of poor edge defence from the Raiders through centre Marion Seve. What was a comfortable lead at half time quickly turned into a tight contest for Canberra as the Tigers levelled the scores 28-28 with just 13 minutes left on the clock.
In his return from injury, Tevita Pangai Junior managed to regain the lead for Canberra after muscling his way through three tackles to the right of the uprights and the Raiders regained a six point lead with only five minutes left in the game.
Unfortunately, the Tigers again managed to score from long range when a brilliant run down the right wing from Tom Satterthwaite saw him kick and regather the ball to level the scores 34-all with just two minutes left on the clock.
As the siren sounded for full-time a brain snap from the Tigers saw them kick to a player in an offside position giving the Raiders a shot at goal from 25 metres out.
Tre Williams stepped up to the mark and converted the penalty kick to steal the win for the Green Machine and capped off a fantastic Man of the Match performance.
After a couple of tough weeks for the side, the scrappy hard fought win is just what they needed in order to restore morale and keep their finals hopes alive with their 8th win out of 10 games at home.