The Manly Sea Eagles have edged out the Canberra Raiders 20 points to 18 in a golden point thriller at GIO Stadium.
A late change for the Sea Eagles saw an injured Darcy Lussick replaced by international and Origin prop Nate Myles, whilst the Raiders line-up remained unchanged following their victory over the Warriors last week.
The Raiders came into the match having won their past three, while Manly were looking to break a two-game losing streak after suffering defeats in their past two matches at home.
Canberra started the match strongly after an opening set bomb from Aidan Sezer had Manly winger Akuila Uate in knots. The ball bounced freely and went into touch just before winger Nick Cotric could pounce on the loose ball.
It was Manly however who found themselves the first points of the match as two consecutive penalties would eventually lead to a Dylan Walker penalty goal, giving the Sea Eagles a 2-0 lead after seven minutes.
Eleven minutes into the first half a strong run from Josh Papalii led to Canberra’s first penalty, gifting them great field position. Raiders prop Junior Paulo was centimetres away from grounding the football but the bunker deemed him to be held up.
The following set had plenty of spark in it and tensions increased as Dylan Walker was placed on report after a dangerous tackle on Aidan Sezer. The Sea Eagles defence would hold strong keeping the home side scoreless after the first twenty minutes.
With twelve minutes to go in the first half a penalty gave the home side some much needed momentum. A fantastic grubber kick from Sezer was swooped onto by Raiders captain Jarrod Croker who crossed for the games first try. He converted his own try to give the Raiders a 6-2 lead.
The concluding stages of the first half saw Manly attacking the Raiders line forcing two consecutive goal-line drop outs. However, Canberra held off the Sea Eagles onslaught to go in to the sheds at half-time leading 6-2.
The second half started perfectly for the Sea Eagles as a 40/20 from five-eighth Blake Green put Manly in a prime position to post points. The Raiders though, started their defence the same as the end of the first half, keeping Manly at bay once again.
The tide of possession would eventually turn and the Raiders would make the most of their good field position. A powerful run from second row Josh Papalii saw him reach over the line to slam the ball down. Croker converted and gave the Raiders a 12-2 lead nine minutes into the second half.
It was only six minutes later when the Sea Eagles would hit back, after a ricochet grubber landed in the hands of Jake Trbojevic who made no mistake in finding the line. Dylan Walker successfully converted the try making it 12-8 with twenty-five minutes remaining.
The next set Manly found themselves in a great attacking position again following a strong set. They forced a goal-line drop out and then levelled the match at 12-12 after centre Dylan Walker hit a good hole to cross over. He converted his own try from out wide to give Manly a 14-12 lead.
The Raiders made it 14-14 four minutes later as captain Jarrod Croker successfully converted a penalty goal from in front. The Sea Eagles next set in Raiders territory gave them a chance to regain the lead. Dylan Walker missed the penalty goal and Nick Cotric did great to get the ball back out of the Raiders in goal area.
This gave the Raiders a much sharper sword and with seven minutes remaining in the match winger Jordan Rapana scored a contender for try of the season. A grubber kick put in from Austin off balance looked all money to go dead in goal, before Rapana dived through the air to get the ball down inches from the paint. Croker’s conversion attempt struck the wood work and the score was 18-14 with five minutes to play.
Minutes later the match changed in a heartbeat when Manly made a break that saw Tom Trbojevic cross over to level the scores with three minutes remaining. Dylan Walker had a chance to perhaps win Manly the match, but his conversion was waved away to the right.
Both teams failed to find the winning point in the last two minutes forcing the match into extra time. A Viking Clap from the Raiders fans after full-time lifted the atmosphere at GIO Stadium.
However, it was Manly who swooped in when centre Dylan Walker successfully converted a penalty goal from thirty-nine metres out, after the ball hit the post and just dropped over the bar.
The Raiders will look to bounce back next week when they take on the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium next Saturday.
Canberra 18 (Croker, Papalii, Rapana; Croker 3/3) defeated by Manly 20 (J.Trbojevic, T.Trbojevic, Walker; Walker 4/6)