Canberra halfback Aidan Sezer believes Sunday’s 15-14 golden-point defeat of Cronulla was the ideal rehearsal for the upcoming finals series.
Sezer kicked three field goals to secure the win in extra time and a place in the top four for the Raiders after they fought back from 12-0 down at half-time to snatch victory before 18,995 Sharks fans who had packed PointsBet Stadium to farewell captain Paul Gallen.
With Cronulla halfback Chad Townsend also kicking two field goals, it was the first match to feature five goals since the 1970 grand final and Sezer became the first player to land three since South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds in last year’s finals defeat of St George Illawarra.
While the Raiders were disappointed they allowed Cronulla to score three unanswered first-half tries, Sezer said the effort to fight their way back into the match was a good preparation for the finals.
“I think we probably needed an audition like that, to win in that fashion,” Sezer said.
“It has been a bit of a problem for us in years gone past, we have missed opportunities.
“I think our maturity and experience is starting to show in this team, especially to come back from 12-0 down at half-time.”
A renowned field goal exponent, Sezer said he had never kicked three field goals in a match before at any level but he did manage two while playing under 20s for Canterbury.
After levelling the scores at 12-12 midway through the second half, hooker Josh Hodgson suggested Sezer have a field goal attempt and he never looked like missing his three kicks.
“Hodgo said if you get in position put one over and get the buffer,” Sezer said.
“Chad Townsend is a good field goal exponent and he went down the other end and kicked two to level it up before the end of regular time.
“I spoke the boys during the break. I said we have been in this position before, we train for this and we have just got to do what we practice. We did that and we came over the top.
“I was very confident, I was kicking them nice in the two prior to that. Once you knock one over you think I can do it again and the confidence obviously grows off that.”
The win enabled the Raiders to catapult Souths into third place on for-and-against and if they beat the Warriors next weekend, Canberra will face Sydney Roosters in the opening round of finals matches.
Should they finish fourth, the Raiders will travel to Melbourne to play the Storm.