In a performance that oscillated from nail-biting to exhilarating, the Canberra Raiders managed to hold off a robust Wests Tigers comeback to secure a 22-18 victory. This win subsequently fortified their aspirations for a top-four finals spot in the National Rugby League (NRL).
The Wests Tigers had a golden chance to pull off a seemingly impossible victory in the game’s final moments. Despite this, seasoned winger David Nofoaluma was not able to efficiently handle a kick from Luke Brooks. Although he succeeded in keeping the ball in action, passing it back to centre Starford To’a, To’a was quickly ushered into touch.
Ironically, Raiders coach Ricky Stuart celebrated prematurely, as To’a was forced out of bounds by an initially overlooked high tackle from Jack Wighton. This indiscretion awarded the visitors an additional play, although they couldn’t leverage the unexpected opportunity.
Canberra Raiders centre, Sebastian Kris, epitomised the fluctuating performance of his team during the Sunday encounter at GIO Stadium. Despite scoring two impressive tries, his performance was hindered by a hamstring injury which saw him limp off the field.
While the Raiders showcased moments of extraordinary skill, numerous unforced errors would have had Stuart’s blood boiling. In the first half alone, his team only completed 13 of 23 sets and incurred 10 regrettable errors.
However, the Tigers were not without fault either, squandering several attacking opportunities, and thereby permitting Canberra to lead 10-6 at half-time.
Neither team was able to break the deadlock until 25 minutes had elapsed. Subsequently, a perfectly weighted kick from Wighton saw Kris opportunistically score his first try.
But just four minutes into the second half, Kris galloped nearly 60 metres to score his second try. However, it was bittersweet, as he immediately retired due to his hampering injury, leaving his team ahead by ten points.
With the game looking to be in Canberra’s favour, star hooker Api Koroisau executed a perfect kick into the in-goal area for Nofoaluma. This crucial play breathed life back into the game at 16-12.
A flurry of exchanged tries amplified the tension, paving way for an unforgettable climax. Significantly, Koroisau’s kick set up another try for Brooks as the clock showed just ten minutes remaining.
Ultimately, the firmness of the Raiders‘ defensive efforts closed the door on the Tigers‘ spirited final flurry. This hard-fought victory has propelled Canberra to fifth position on the NRL ladder, leaving the Tigers to contend with the prospect of the dreaded wooden spoon.