Manly beat Raiders in golden point epic
It was a case of third time lucky for Sea Eagles centre Dylan Walker who slotted a 39-metre penalty goal in golden point to ensure the Sea Eagles stole a dramatic 20-18 win at GIO Stadium on Friday night.
Raiders lock Joseph Tapine was penalised for a strip on Martin Taupau four minutes into the extra time period and after missing two attempts throughout the game, Walker's third attempt hit the crossbar and went over.
Earlier, the Raiders had a massive chance three minutes into extra time when Jarrod Croker ran into a huge gap, only to slip over with a three-on-two overlap and the try went begging.
A 76th-minute four-pointer to Tom Trbojevic levelled the game up at 18-all and Walker had the chance to win it for the visitors in regular time but sprayed the conversion wide to send the 15,976 Raiders fans into a frenzy at GIO Stadium.
Manly's gutsy performance overshadowed a freakish effort from Jordan Rapana in the dying stages with the Kiwi international on the end of a Blake Austin grubber kick and producing acrobatic skill to get the ball down in the corner.
The win was the sixth in seven visits to the national capital for the Sea Eagles outfit and propels them back into the top eight momentarily.
Despite the Sea Eagles enjoying 61 percent of possession and completing at 100 percent in the opening half, the Raiders defence was relentless in the opening half with Jack Wighton pulling off two try-savers in the final five minutes of the opening 40 to ensure the Sea Eagles could only manage a penalty goal early and trail 6-2 at the break.
An uncharacteristic error from Rapana in the fourth minute gifted the visitors first points with Sea Eagles hooker Api Koroisau earning a penalty in front of the posts with the visitors taking an early two point lead.
Rapana was fortunate to receive a penalty shortly after despite playing the ball the wrong way and the Raiders went close with Junior Paulo ruled held up over the line with Sea Eagles fullback Trbojevic ensuring there was only a blade of grass in it.
Walker caused both sides to come together with a head slam incident on Aidan Sezer that was placed on report in the 14th minute.
Manly broke through 10 metres out from their line with Jorge Taufua beating Tapine from a scrum-win to race 50 metres up field, before the Canberra defence held strong to deny the Sea Eagles any chance of extending the lead.
Ricky Stuart's men were rewarded with their strong defensive efforts when they took advantage of a rare chance to attack with Sezer placing a pin-point grubber for Raiders skipper Croker to beat Akuila Uate in-goal and get the Green Machine on the board.
Taupau was strong upon his return from injury in the first half with 87 metres in a 27 minute stint that threatened the Raiders line on three occasions, before the Kiwi prop-forward churned out 171 metres by full-time.
The Sea Eagles exploded out of the second half with Blake Green executing a monster 40/20 but Ricky Stuart's side picked up where they left off to defend their way out of it.
Jake Trbojevic was making in-roads for the visitors but his final pass for Koroisau was put down as the former Rabbitoh looked to be through a gap.
Canberra took advantage of the error with Josh Hodgson roaming across field before finding a barnstorming Josh Papalii who crashed his way passed Walker and Daly Cherry-Evans to get over the line.
The Raiders looked to hit their groove until a monster hit from veteran Nate Myles on Luke Bateman swung the momentum the Sea Eagles' way.
Trbojevic would do it all himself eight minutes later when a Cherry-Evans kick ricocheted off a Raider and into the hands of the Australian international who ensured the visitors were back to within four points.
Another accurate kick from Cherry-Evans had the Sea Eagles on the attack straight after points and former Kiwi international Lewis Brown would prove valuable when he put Walker into a hole to split Croker and Sezer out wide.
The sideline conversion from the centre put Barrett's men up by two with a quarter of the game remaining.
Raiders centre Joey Leilua left the field for a HIA assessment midway through the first half after a head knock but returned to finish the game.
Back-to-back penalties would force the game level in the 65th minute with Jackson Hastings holding Hodgson down for too long in front of the posts.
Manly had a chance to take the lead at 14-all when Elliott Whitehead was ruled offside, although Walker's penalty attempt was again wide.
The Sea Eagles went close again to take the lead however Trbojevic's final pass to Taufua was ruled forward with the tryline in sight, until the game turned on its head in the final seven minutes of regular time.
Sea Eagles 20 (J.Trbojevic, Walker, Trbojevic tries; Walker 4 goals) def. Raiders 18 (Croker, Papalii, Rapana tries; Croker 3 goals) in golden point at GIO Stadium. Half-time: Raiders 6-2. Crowd: 15,976.