Five Key Points: Raiders v Manly
Dylan Walker the Raiders' fans new favourite player to hate, Rapana's soaring stunner, Papalii evokes memories of Mal and Nate Myles's timely Origin reminder.
Raiders find a new favourite player to hate
Lining up against Canberra's captain Jarrod Croker it didn't take Dylan Walker very long to take over the mantle from Michael Ennis of Canberra's new favourite player to hate.
He engaged in some push and shove with Aidan Sezer that blew up into something much more serious early in the first half and exchanged heated banter with Canberra players for the majority of the night.
When he sliced through in brilliant fashion to score Manly's second try he made sure anyone wearing lime green knew about it and when he iced the conversion from the sideline he looked like he wanted to break out the Viking clap himself for the Raiders fans.
He had two shots at goal that sprayed well right and after the second just prior to full-time the Raiders returned serve. Led by their hooker Josh Hodgson they let the Manly centre know all about it and there were extraordinary scenes when it threatened to blow up as the teams we're heading back to halfway for the restart.
But with the game going into golden point he was given one last chance to break Raiders hearts and this time landed the killer blow, kissing the right-hand upright before the ball just fell over the crossbar for a pulsating win.
Rapana heroics can't save the day for Raiders
Manly coach Trent Barrett's blueprint to kick the ball out of touch at every opportunity to dull the impact of Jordan Rapana worked a treat right up until the 73rd minute when the NRL's leading try-scorer delivered a put-down for the ages.
With the Sea Eagles having fought their way back into the contest to have the scores level heading into the final 10 minutes, a kick from Raiders five-eighth Blake Austin looked way too big off the boot until Rapana swooped and defied physics to drag the ball back from over the sideline and the dead-ball line to plant the Steeden well inside the extremity of the field.
His haul of 105 metres and three tackle busts was well down on his normal output but he left us with a memory that will last long after this season is in the books.
Myles issues timely Origin reminder
It must almost be Origin time because Nate Myles turned back the clock to be a menacing presence again for Manly in the middle of GIO Stadium.
Only once since Round 1, 2014 had Myles run more than the 137 he registered on Friday night and that was in Round 13, 2015 when he ran for 149m whilst at the Titans but his influence also came without the ball.
He came up with a stunning hit on Luke Bateman that jolted the ball free just inside Manly's half and turned the momentum of the game well and truly in the way of the Sea Eagles in the type of performance that will have Maroons coach Kevin Walters thinking he could be capable of going around for a 12th successive series.
Rampant Papalii evokes memories of Mal
Thirty years after Manly and Canberra played the last grand final at the Sydney Cricket Ground, rampaging back-rower Josh Papalii evoked memories of another unstoppable force with some brutal runs on the left edge.
On a night where line-breaks were few and far between Papalii had seven tackle busts and the manner in which he bumped off Daly Cherry-Evans to score eight minutes into the second half was vintage Mal Meninga.
Running off a lovely pass from Josh Hodgson, Papalii dropped his hip to steamroll over Cherry-Evans and held off Dylan Walker, Lewis Brown and Tom Trbojevic to force his way over the line.
Will be one of the first picked by Meninga for the mid-year Test against the Kiwis on his home turf in Canberra in a fortnight's time.
Short surface costs the Raiders four points
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart couldn't remember it when asked at half-time but when he reviews the footage he may come to rue a decision to deny prop forward Junior Paulo a try in the 13th minute of the game.
Carrying a handful of Manly defenders over the line with him Paulo looked certain to have scored close to the posts and it was sent for review by the officials on the Bunker as a try.
However, after some forensic examination and the suggestion it may have touched the top of a blade of grass, but only that, the review officials decided that the ball had not in fact been grounded in the in-goal.
"I don't think I've ever seen that before," was Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss's summation.
The rules say that only a part of the ball needs to come in contact with the grass in the in-goal but the video referee deemed that 122kg Paulo couldn't apply enough pressure to bring it into contact with the ground and one of the more unusual try-scoring opportunities went unrewarded.
If only the grounds staff had left a bit of length the decision may have been very different.
This article first appeared on NRL.com