The Raiders’ quest for second place continues after securing a hard-fought 44-30 win against the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval.
A Jordan Rapana hattrick proved to be enough for the Green Machine despite a late Manly comeback.
Paul Vaughan was the first to put his name of the scoresheet to mark his return to first grade. A pass from Hodgson left him with plenty to do, but clever footwork from the prop found a gap in the Manly line.
The Raiders added to their lead after Rapana gathered a stray pass. After facing back to back sets, the winger latched onto the loose ball and ran the length of the field. Despite being heavily pursued by maroon jerseys, Rapana’s speed ensured he scored next to the posts.
However, Manly hit back when Cherry-Evans kicked a towering bomb which Wighton was unable to defuse. Koroisau collected the loose ball before offloading to Jake Trbojevic who scored.
The younger Trbojevic, Tom, added a second try for the Sea Eagles. Sensing that the Raiders defence was out of position, Cherry-Evans passed the ball to his fullback who ran through to score.
The Raiders managed to extend their lead minutes from half-time when Joey Leilua ran through broken play before being tackled 10 meters from the line. A quick play the ball from Williams left Rapana with plenty of work to do, but the winger beat three defenders with a left foot step to score.
Croker made no mistake from the tee to ensure the Raiders entered the sheds with an 18-10 lead.
Tom Trbojevic looked to have scored a try only seconds after the break when the fullback was set loose by Williame. However, the try was disallowed when Williame’s pass was ruled have travelled forwards.
Joey Leilua scored two quick tries to wrestle the momentum away from Manly. On both occasions the centre was too powerful for the defenders, brushing aside Manly defenders to plant the ball near the right corner.
Brad Parker ensured that Papalii didn’t add his name to the list of scorers. The second-rower received an offload from Lee, but Parker managed to get under the ball before it was grounded.
The Sea Eagles refused to lay down, and Tom Trbojevic managed to score on the back of a line drop out. The fullback’s angled run held off the Raiders defenders and allowed him to score.
Edrick Lee capped off a scintillating play to score the Raiders sixth try of the afternoon. Croker leapt to catch Sezer’s kick before passing the ball in a manner that wouldn’t look out of place in the Superbowl. Papalii then passed the ball on his outside to Lee, who scored.
The tries kept coming for the men in green and Wighton scored his first of the afternoon. Shifting the ball to the left, Papalii produced a clever offload on his inside to the fullback. Wighton made the most of the change of angle to catch the Manly defence flatfooted.
The Sea Eagled scored two tries to ensure a tight finish. Cherry-Evans was the beneficiary of a Jamie Buhrer line break, while Tom Trbojevic scored his third try of the afternoon.
Frank Winterstein jumped highest to score in the left corner. However, Wright was unable to convert the try, giving the Raiders an eight-point buffer.
With the game in the balance, Rapana cured the Raiders’ nerves with a try on the verge of fulltime. The winger gathered the loose ball and steamed down the sideline to score.
Croker added the extra two points from the tee to ensure a 44-30 win.
Raiders 44 (Tries: Rapana 3, Leilua 2, Vaughan, Lee, Wighton; Conversions: Croker 6/8) defeated Sea Eagles 30 (Tries: T. Trbojevic 3, J.Trbojevic, Cherry-Evans, Winterstein; Conversions: Wright 3/6)
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