The Canberra Raiders have kept their finals hopes alive after a terrific second-half performance to comeback and defeat the New Zealand Warriors 28-16.
The Raiders will take on the Sydney Roosters next Thursday night with a chance, pending results, to be playing finals football in a fortnight’s time.
The Warriors had an outstanding start to the match when Wayde Egan caught the markers off-guard and broke the line. Egan drew the fullback and passed to Sean O’Sullivan to bag the first try of the evening. Reece Walsh converted to give the Warriors an early 6-0 lead after the first minute.
The Raiders then earned themselves some field position after Jack Wighton was hit late off an attacking kick, leading to a penalty. Wighton backed it up in the following set through a well-weighted grubber kick which earned the Raiders a repeat set. The Warriors showed some great goal-line defence to hold the green machine out.
The Warriors claimed another try after a beautiful chip kick from O’Sullivan put centre Rocco Berry over in the corner. Walsh couldn’t convert which kept the scores at 10-nil with 20 minutes remaining in the first half.
Canberra failed to control and contest the Chad Townsend bomb which landed in winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak’s hands to gift the New Zealand side their third try of the evening. Walsh converted to extend their lead to 16-0.
Josh Curran kept the pressure on the Raiders when he kicked and chased his own grubber kick to tackle Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad in goals and earn his side a repeat set.
The Warriors gave away consecutive penalties which led to Canberra’s first try. Hooker Josh Hodgson held up the defence and put his fullback Nicoll-Klokstad over to close-in on the Warriors lead. Jordan Rapana converted to make it 16-6.
Jack Wighton almost pulled off a trick play right on halftime when he chip kicked for centre Seb Kris but the Warriors luckily defused it to head into the sheds with a 16-6 lead at halftime.
The Raiders were the first to strike in the second half through some great attacking footy. Jack Wighton linked up with Nicoll-Klokstad to put Seb Kris over for his seventh try of the season. The conversion was unsuccessful, forcing the scores to 16-10.
The match entered an arm-wrestle where both sides traded attacking sets but goal-line defence came out on top.
Jack Wighton threw a beautiful cut-out ball to Jordan Rapana who broke the line and linked up with his centre Seb Kris to score his second try of the night. Rapana converted to tie things up at 16-all with 13 minutes remaining.
Warriors forward Bunty Afoa caught Jordan Rapana with a high tackle which the Raiders elected to take the shot at goal. Rapana was unsuccessful after his conversion waved away to the right.
Reece Walsh had an attempt at a field goal but it waved away to the left, gifting the Raiders a seven tackle set with 2 minutes remaining.
The Raiders created a great try to seal the win in the final 60 seconds. Canberra spread it to the left and linked up with Rapana who stepped the fullback to score under the posts. Rapana converted his own try to gain the 22-16 lead.
The Raiders piled on another try to put the icing on the cake when they pressured Reece Walsh off an attacking kick and forced an error. Hudson Young cleaned up the mistake and scored to cap-off a great team performance. Rapana converted once again to go out victorious 28-16 over the Warriors.