Rapana try seals stunning Raiders comeback
A Jordan Rapana golden point try in the final second of the first half of extra time has helped the Raiders to a thrilling 29-25 win over the Newcastle Knights.
Leaving the field early in the contest with a shoulder injury, Rapana would return to the action in the second half to end proceedings with the final action of the game.
Making the feat even more remarkable was the fact the Raiders were 22-0 down after 23 minutes and somehow managed to hand the cellar-dwelling Knights their tenth-straight loss.
The game looked over in the final minute of regular time when Blake Austin's field goal put the Raiders ahead 25-24 but a short kick-off came up trumps for the Knights as co-captain Trent Hodkinson nailed a 25-metre field goal of his own in the final 20 seconds.
Hodkinson's field goal confirmed the second golden point thriller between these two sides this season after their 24-all draw in Round 3.
Austin's second failed field goal attempt in the 83rd minute would touch a Knights player, which forced a repeat set.
The five-eighth's third crack at a one-pointer in extra time was an abysmal effort but a favourable bounce back between Nathan Ross and Dane Gagai to Rapana allowed the winger to score his 11th and perhaps his most important try of the season.
The win helped the Raiders consolidate a place in the NRL Telstra Premiership top eight at sixth, with a top four berth still very much a possibility after their four-point win.
Nobody could've anticipated the onslaught from the visiting side however in the first half as they scored four tries in just 12 minutes.
Sione Mata'utia was the first cab off the rank in the 11th minute when Jake Mamo knocked down a Jack Cogger cross-field kick back to the Knights back-rower to score in the corner.
Korbin Sims barged his way through the fleeting defence of Raiders' Paul Vaughan and Jack Wighton to score four minutes later just next to the uprights.
Mamo scored one of his own in the 18th minute when kicks from Hodkinson, Peter Mata'utia and Tyler Randell on the same play allowed the Knights winger to leap above Wighton and score his side's third.
Peter Mata'utia made ex-Knights Joey Leilua and Joseph Tapine look silly prior to crossing for his first try of the season, when he found a way in between them to cross in the corner in the 23rd minute.
Austin's try one minute before half-time offered the Raiders their only reprieve in the first 40 with the Green Machine down 22-6 at half-time, with Shannon Boyd (leg) also failing to return.
Hodkinson extended it to an 18-point deficit in the 46th minute when a successful penalty goal made life even more difficult for the Raiders but it would come with the news that Randell (ribs) wouldn't return.
The Raiders hit back in the 52nd minute through Wighton when a backline movement ended back in-field thanks to the handy playmaking skills of skipper Jarrod Croker.
With momentum shifting the way of the Raiders, Austin was denied a double midway through the second half when he planted the ball down on the dead ball line.
They weren’t to be denied a second time though when Croker sliced his way through Mamo and Brendan Elliot to score his tenth try of the season and bring the Raiders' deficit back to six points.
Croker scored his second with just five minutes remaining when he leapt high above the Knights defence to take handle of the ball, his conversion moments after levelling the scoreline at 24-all before Austin and Rapana's efforts sealed the game in extra time.
Canberra Raiders 29 (Jarrod Croker 2, Blake Austin, Jack Wighton, Jordan Rapana tries; Jarrod Croker 4 goals; Blake Austin field goal) defeated Newcastle Knights 25 (Sione Mata'utia, Korbin Sims, Jake Mamo, Peter Mata'utia tries; Trent Hodkinson 4 goals; Trent Hodkinson field goal) at GIO Stadium. Crowd: 9,731. Half-time: Knights 22-6. Injuries: Shannon Boyd (Raiders) – leg; Jordan Rapana (Raiders) – shoulder; Tyler Randell (Knights) –ribs.