Match Report: Raiders slay Tigers to secure home semi-final
The Canberra Raiders have secured a top-two position for the first time since 1995 after demolishing the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
The Raiders scored nine tries to end the Tigers season and to claim a tenth straight win.
However, Raiders fans face a nervy wait after Jack Wighton was placed on report for a potential shoulder charge on Joel Edwards.
The Raiders took the lead after a slow start when Jarrod Croker scored his 17th try of the season.
The NRL’s leading point scorer latched onto a deft grubber from Hodgson to score left of the posts.
Rapana scored arguably the best try of the season when Leilua produced a pass that wouldn’t look out of place in the NBA.
Gathering a stray Tim Simona pass, the centre got turned around in a tackle before offloading with a spectacular around the back pass to his winger.
The Tigers hit back minutes later when Mitch Moses sliced through the line before offloading to Aloiai who scored.
However, Josh Hodgson swung the momentum back towards the Raiders by scoring one try and setting up another.
The hooker passed the ball to Bateman before running around him to receive the ball and send Papalii over the line.
Hodgson followed it up with a dart from dummy half to score.
Papalii crashed over the line for his second try of the first half which Croker converted to give the Raiders a 30-4 halftime lead.
With their season on the line, the Tigers started the second half with intent and scored a quick try.
Mitchell Moses almost sprinted the length of the field after being sent through the line with an inside ball. A quick play the ball at the completion of the tackle saw Tim Grant barge over the line.
Despite facing consecutive sets on their line, the Raiders scored against the run of play. Tapine created half a chance when he offloaded the football to Whitehead. The Englishman surged downfield before passing to Leilua who scored.
Rapana scored his 20th try of the season after running 70 meters to score. Sezer missed the conversion after taking over the goal kicking due to Croker picking up a cork,
Tapine scored a late try for the Raiders after an excellent tackle from the young Kiwi saw the ball go loose close to the Tigers line. Tapine wasted no time to pounce on the ball to score.
Soliola put the icing on the cake for the Raiders. Finding himself on the wing, the lock produced a perfectly weighted in field grubber for Sam Williams to score.
Raiders 52 (Tries: Rapana 2, Papalii 2, Croker, Hodgson, Leilua, Tapine, Williams Conversions: Croker 5/5, Sezer 2/3 ) defeated Tigers 10 (Tries: Aloiai, Grant Conversions: Rankin 1/2)
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