Wests Tigers beat Raiders in thriller
The Wests Tigers have all but ended the finals hopes of the Raiders with a hard-fought 20-18 victory in a spiteful match in Canberra.
David Shillington became the first player sent off since Round 14, 2013 as his frustrations boiled over late in the game, he was given his marching orders after an attempted headbutt on Aaron Woods.
It was an exciting game, with both teams counterattacking brilliantly and the ball moving from end to end in free-flowing footy.
Man of the match James Tedesco was brilliant for the Wests Tigers, running for over 200 metres in kick returns and counter attacks, constantly threatening the Raiders line.
Meanwhile Shannon Boyd was remarkably strong for the Raiders, scoring a double by half-time and proving difficult to bring down through the middle of the field.
It was a tense first half with the Tigers starting off on top thanks to a string of errors from the Green Machine.
Sauaso Sue was the first to cross, barging over Jack Wighton after a nice short ball from Luke Brooks in the 12th minute.
Boyd continued the points for the game's big men, drawing the Raiders level and showcasing amazing strength to score his fourth try of the year.
In typical fashion, Boyd carried a number of defenders over the line and somehow managed to extend his arm to the line.
The Raiders would be given another chance just before the close of the half as Brooks kicked out on the full attempting a 40/20.
And it was an unlikely opponent who made them pay as Boyd crossed with another trademark surge towards the line off a 10-metre tap, going through some very soft defence under the goal posts.
Tedesco brought the Tigers back into the contest after some brilliant play capitalising on a quick 20 metre tap.
The Wests Tigers fullback showed some great pace to run the final 60 metres and outpace the cover defence.
The 1000th first grade goal once again proved elusive for Pat Richards who hit the woodwork from wide out, leaving the Tigers four down at 12-8.
Some tense end-to-end footy followed, on one occasion an astonishing 70 metre Pat Richards punt was almost returned the length of the field for a try by the Raiders before Mitch Moses managed to clean up the scraps near his own try-line.
In the 62nd minute the Tigers were the first to break the deadlock, scoring through Richards off a quick shift to the left following another penalty from the Raiders.
His subsequent conversion finally sealed his amazing milestone goal, the first player to ever reach the mark.
The Raiders would go 100 metres to produce a remarkable counter-attack try and regain the lead.
After Jack Wighton was adjudged to have caught an attacking kick outside his own in-goal, he returned the ball 60 metres before linking up with Josh Hodgson who in turn found Jarrod Croker to finish the length of the field movement.
Wighton marked his dominance on the game off the ensuing kick-off, returning the ball 60 metres to give the Green Machine another brilliant attacking opportunity but they would fail to capitalise.
Instead the Tigers brought the ball back the length of the field, Tedesco once again showcasing his brilliant running game to cut through the line before the ball eventually found Brooks backing up on the inside to score.
That play would give the Tigers a two-point advantage that they would hold until the conclusion of the match, despite the Raiders seriously pressing their line late in the game.
The game ended in controversy as Shillington lashed out in the final minute following a knock-on call.
Wests Tigers 20 (Sauaso Sue, James Tedesco, Pat Richards, Luke Brooks tries; Pat Richards 2 goals) defeated Canberra Raiders 18 (Shannon Boyd 2 tries, Jarrod Croker; Jarrod Croker 3 goals) at GIO Stadium. Crowd: 8,704