The Raiders have drawn with the Wests Tigers 28-28 in a thrilling contest at Leichhardt Oval today.
Raiders winger Harry Van Dartel had two chances to steal the victory for the Raiders, however a last-minute conversion and penalty goal after the siren both just missed.
Brett White made a stack of changes to the team prior to kick-off, bringing in Robert Vai, Andre Niko, Ron Leapai and Daniel Keir. Jack Williams captained the team, with Zac Woolford not playing.
A penalty against the Raiders on the first tackle of the game set the tone for the first ten minutes, with the Tigers dominating field position and testing the Raiders defence out early. Shifting the ball across the field, it was Tigers centre Toa Mata'afa who was able to find space around the outside of the defensive line and cross for the first try of the game.
The Raiders were struggling to move the ball out of their own half on sets, and a number of poor last tackle kicks weren’t helping their cause. A string of penalties to the home side saw them deep in Raiders territory and pushing for their second. A perfect short ball to Mark McCormack proved too much for the Raiders to handle and he powered across from close range. Roman Ioelu converted his first of the day to give the Tigers a 10-0 lead.
Nearing the end of the first half the Raiders had a stroke of luck when the Wests Tigers fullback fumbled the high-ball. Taking advantage of their best attacking position of the half, Sione Afemui blasted across under the posts to cut the Tigers lead. Taking over goal-kicking duties, Harry Van Dartel converted from in front.
Despite the Tigers dominating most of the first-half, the Raiders remained well in the hunt heading into the break only four points down.
As per the first half, it was the Tigers who came out firing in the second. Dominating the first 15 minutes after the restart, the Tigers piled on three tries to increase their lead to 28-6.
The Raiders didn’t go down without a fight, narrowing the margin to ten points when Andre Niko and William Samuel both crossed for tries. The unlikely comeback continued to pick up steam when Ron Leapai barged over and Van Dartel converted. With five minutes remaining, the Tigers led the Raiders 28-24.
A fortunate penalty gave the Raiders one last attacking chance, and Afemui continued his stunning game when he broke through the Tigers defence to lock the scores up. Van Dartel's conversion just slid wide.
Consecutive penalties to the Raiders after the restart left Van Dartel with a tough penalty kick to earn the Raiders the win, however his kick again slid just wide and the match finished in a draw.
Wests Tigers 28 (Mata'afa 2, McCormack, Doolan, Peck Ioelu 4/5 ) drew with Canberra Raiders 28 (Afemui 2, Niko, Samuel, Leapai. Van Dartel 4/5, 0/1 Pen)