A Jarrod Croker double has inspired the Canberra Raiders to a 22-18 win over the Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
18-0 down at one point, the Raiders fought back through Croker, Rapana and Papalii to score 22 unanswered points and steal a victory towards the very end of the match.
Two early sin-bins for the Green Machine allowed Melbourne an early lead, however, a rampant second half saw Canberra fight back.
The win helps celebrates Jack Wighton’s 150th match in the lime green jersey, as well as Joey Leilua’s 200th NRL match.
The Raiders were immediately on the back foot as Jack Wighton was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul, just three minutes in.
The Storm took advantage of the extra man just two minutes later, with Cameron Munster putting a chip into goal that bounced into the hands of Justin Olam to score the first four-pointer of the night.
It was a case of one in one out for the Raiders as while Jack Wighton returned to the field, Joe Tapine was sent for ten for striking an opposing player.
The Storm capitalised instantly as Olam spotted a gap on the right a got a flick pass away to Josh Addo-Carr to double Melbourne’s lead.
Ten minutes later, an astray pass ricocheted off Nick Cotric’s foot and quickly snatched by Suliasi Vunivalu, who ran into open space and put the Storm further in front.
With eight minutes remaining in the half, a quick switch of play from the Raiders saw an offload from Elliot Whitehead make it to Jarrod Croker who crashed his way over.
One last attempt for the Green Machine saw a kick in-field from Cotric eventually fizzled out into nothing as they headed to the sheds 14-points down.
The Raiders started the second half off with a bang, with Josh Hodgson kicking a 40/20 in the first minute to put the Raiders within 20 metres of the try-line, however, it led to nothing.
Croker doubled his try tally for the night after Hodgson spotted a gap in the Melbourne line and placed a perfect grubber in for his co-captain to collect and score.
With ten minutes remaining, slick hands from right to left saw Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad tap a pass onto Jordan Rapana, who dived into the corner to bring the Raiders back to within two points.
With five minutes remaining, Josh Papalii busted through the Storm defence off a Hodgson pass and crashed under the posts to give the Raiders the lead for the first time in the match.
The last four minutes kept Raiders fans on the edge of their seats as the Green Machine defended to the death to go out 22-18 victors over the Storm.
Canberra Raiders 22 (Tries: 2 Croker, Rapana, Papalii. Goals: Croker 3/4) def.
Melbourne Storm 18 (Tries: Olam, Addo-Carr, Vunivalu. Goals: Smith 3/3)