Sezer gives Raiders last-minute win over Sea Eagles
An Aidan Sezer field goal in the dying seconds has iced a 21-20 comeback victory for the Canberra Raiders over the Manly Sea Eagles at GIO Stadium.
Ill-discipline and mistakes at crucial times from the Raiders looked set to cost them a chance at victory and consign them to another heartbreaking loss.
However, a second shot at goal from Sezer sailed through the posts sparking wild celebrations from the Raiders players and bowed heads from Manly, who were the better team for much of the 80 minutes but went home empty handed.
Canberra opened their account early off the back of an excellent set, as Jarrod Croker split the posts as the home side went up 2-0.
Off the back of two penalties, Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans showed excellent footwork to score an easy try to put the Sea Eagles in front.
Incredibly the Raiders' early ill-discipline continued to haunt them as they failed to perform a drop-out before the shot-clock.
Trent Hodkinson slotted the penalty from right in front as the Sea Eagles jumped out to a 8-2 lead.
Match: Raiders vs Sea Eagles
Venue: GIO Stadium
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A glut of possession for Manly saw them pressure the Raiders defence with an excellent short-ball from Tom Trbojevic found Joel Thompson who strolled over to give his side a 12-point lead.
Canberra's attacking prowess was on display as a well-worked move to their left saw plenty of space out wide as Nick Cotric scored in the corner to get them back into the game at 14-6.
Manly's right defence was caught out badly again soon after, as the home side shifted the ball through the hands seeing Cotric pick up his second try in quick succession and his seventh for the season.
Croker missed his second sideline conversion in a row and Manly held onto a four-point lead.
The Raiders finished the half with a flurry but were unable to crack the line with a Croker penalty a consolation prize as they trailed 14-12 at the break.
Croker added another two points from a penalty to draw the home side drew level but Manly edged ahead thanks to a Hodkinson penalty, after Elliot Whitehead gave away a penalty for tripping as the see-sawing game continued.
Manly continued to threaten and looked close to extending their lead with Frank Winterstein carrying several defenders over before being held-up.
The Sea Eagles were down a man in the 58th minute when Trent Hodkinson was given a rest for being off-side as the Raiders pounded the Manly line.
However, it was the 12-man Sea Eagles who scored against the run of play when Brian Kelly showed strength and speed to score a superb try.
The crucial conversion attempt was taken by Cherry-Evans with Hodkinson off the field, and the halfback sent the ball wide to keep the Raiders in the hunt at 20-14 down.
Ill-discipline by the Raiders cruelled their chances late in the game, with an errant off-load by Joey Leilua and a forward pass by Aidan Sezer giving Manly chances to seal the game.
Cherry-Evans aimed up for a match-winning field goal but the rushing Raiders defence forced him to run the ball and Manly turned the ball over. Sezer then raced 30 metres upfield before he committed yet another turnover and the Raiders looked gone.
Hodkinson took a shot at one-point from point blank range only to see it waved away and had the home side a seven-tackle set as time wound down.
Canberra spread the ball to their left where young gun Cotric put in a perfect chip-kick back inside which found the arms of Jack Wighton who scored.
Croker remained cool under pressure and landed the conversion to make it 20-20 with just over two minutes remaining.
An attempted field goal from Sezer was charged down leading to a fresh set of six, with Josh Papalii charging forward, gifting Sezer another chance to seal an incredible victory.
News & Notes: Manly second-rower Joel Thompson scored his 50th career try ... Josh Papalii left the field for an HIA test in the 58th minute but returned to make some strong charges ... Raiders have won four of their past five games at GIO Stadium ... Next week: Manly at home to North Queensland ... Canberra have the bye