Sensational Raiders silence Warriors faithful
A stunning late Canberra comeback, including two tries inside the final minute, have stunned the Warriors with a 23-19 win.
It took nearly six minutes for first points to come and when they did they silenced the parochial New Zealand fans when Canberra's Joel Edwards pushed over after the Raiders had forced a line drop-out.
But the crowd found their full voice shortly after when superstar halfback Shaun Johnson produced some typically dazzling footwork 20 metres out to stroll through to the line – then produce a cheeky step inside the in-goal to get around the defence on his way to the bonus zone for a seven-pointer.
The Warriors regathered their own kick-off before Johnson produced out a stunning cut-out pass to send Ken Maumalo over in the corner and the crowd into raptures.
Tui Lolohea did it all himself after the break, grubbering ahead then sprinting past the defence to get there first and make it 15-4.
The Warriors again regathered the kick off and yet another pinpoint Johnson cut-out made it back-to-back tries when new centre Matt Allwood scored his first try in Warriors colours – and against his old club Canberra.
Tevita Pangai earned the Raiders' second try of the game when he pushed through the defence and things suddenly got nervous for the Warriors when Brenko Lee forced his way over to narrow the gap to 19-16 with 20 seconds to play.
The nightmare scenario for the passionate crowd emerged seconds later when a beautiful pass from Mitch Cornish created room for Jack Ahearn to dash through for a bonus zone try and a 23-19 win, keeping the Raiders' tournament hopes alive and placing the Warriors' finals chances at risk.
Raiders half Sam Williams said ball security and patience were the keys to a win that was "pretty special" in front of such a boisterous Auckland crowd.
"It's a pretty funny atmosphere when you're down like that and crowd's all over you but we were yelling pretty loud by the end of it," Williams said.
"It's one of those things, in 18 minutes of time, if you can have the footy for most of the time, then it's pretty hard to lose. We just made sure we held onto the footy and play them down the other end.
"We were running out of time, that's for sure. But as we said, it's Nines and anything can happen. The way that game finished, it was pretty special.
"We just focused on holding onto the footy. There were a few times we overplayed our hand a little bit but it's pretty important in this game to have the ball in your hand. We just said we needed to focus on that."