Warriors score last-gasp win over Raiders
New Zealand Warriors star Shaun Johnson has kicked his side to an incredible come-from-behind victory, slotting two fields goals in the dying minutes to secure a 20-19 defeat of the Canberra Raiders.
It caps the first 3-0 start for the Warriors in their club's history, as they overcame a slanted penalty count and a lack of possession for much of the game.
The loss is another massive body blow for the Raiders who remain winless after three rounds, with their combined losing margin for three games amounting to just five points.
The Raiders looked destined to score early in the clash on the back of four penalties in their favour, but Aidan Sezer was held up over the try-line.
Warriors prop Adam Blair was sent to the sin-bin for a late shoulder charge, as Canberra continued to apply the blowtorch to the visitors' line.
Eventually the pressure told and Siliva Havili scored his second try for the club when he darted over from close range, giving Canberra a 6-0 lead after nine minutes.
Raiders centre Joey Leilua showed no signs of the ankle injury from round two as he started a sensational team try, which was capped off by a one-handed off-load from Sia Soliola to Elliott Whitehead backing up on the inside.
Match: Raiders vs Warriors
Venue: GIO Stadium
- Fox League
- LIVE PASS
New Zealand did not need much ball to open their account, with Peta Hiku crossing out wide in their first foray into the Raiders red zone.
Shaun Johnson added the extras and the away side was on the board with Blair still in the sin bin.
Both sides settled into an arm-wrestle after the chaotic start, as the halves settled for field possession at the end of their respective sets.
The home side showed some steel on their line just before the break, after the Warriors earned another penalty late in the tackle count.
However, the New Zealand attack became disjointed and the Kiwis weren't able to break through, as Canberra showed some of the desperation on their own line that was missing at times in the first two rounds.
A shift to the left saw Raiders winger Nick Cotric spring free in a damaging run, setting up an opportunistic field goal shot from Sam Williams and a 13-6 half-time lead.
New Zealand went on the attack early in the second half, only to see Jordan Rapana defuse a dangerous kick while Williams received treatment in the back field.
Cotric showed tremendous strength against three Warriors defenders to force the ball down in the left corner, giving the Raiders a perfect start to the second stanza and a 17-6 lead.
More possession off the back of more luck for the Raiders after a David Fusitu'a error saw the home side capitalise on the ninth penalty against New Zealand, as Jarrod Croker slotted the easy penalty from right in front.
With their tails up, the Green Machine looked to have crossed again when Junior Paulo crashed over but the bunker ruled interference on the play.
New Zealand continued to shift the ball quickly and found the space they were looking for when Tohu Harris touched down to make it 19-12.
Canberra were handed several chances to ice the game, including a scything run from Blake Austin, but a costly turnover gave the away side another chance to come from behind.
It came back to haunt them as Issac Luke spied a yawning gap on the Raiders line and strolled over before Johnson boldly nailed a field-goal to level it at 19-19 in the 78th minute.
New Zealand marched down-field again to set up one last shot at stealing victory and Johnson sent the ball sailing through the sticks for the win.