A late try to Jordan Rapana has gifted the Canberra Raiders a vital 28-16 victory over the New Zealand Warriors in Mackay.
The Warriors are now out of the finals race after conceding 28 unanswered points.
It took Nathan Brown’s men just three tackles to break apart the Raiders defence as Wayde Egan made an early break.
— NRL (@NRL) August 27, 2021
He then passed off to Sean O’Sullivan to score in the first set of the match.
The Warriors continued their early momentum by taking advantage of back-to-back errors from Bailey Simonsson.
The Raiders flyer first dropped a cross-field kick before misjudging a bomb, resulting in tries to Rocco Berry and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in short succession.
Simonsson was consequently hooked by Ricky Stuart and replaced by Jordan Rapana, with Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad moving to fullback.
Unfortunately for Warriors fans, Watene-Zelezniak’s try was the last of the night for his side.
Nicoll-Klokstad soon crashed past three defenders to cut the lead against his former club, before both sides entered the sheds with the Warriors leading 16-6.
After the break, a lengthy right-to-left shift saw Sebastian Kris crash over the line before the Raiders centre completed his double to level up the scores.
With the game nearing its conclusion, a missed field goal attempt from Reece Walsh provided the Raiders with a critical seven-tackle set.
Ricky Stuart’s side marched upfield and, with just two minutes remaining, shifted the ball to Jordan Rapana.
With the Warriors expecting a field goal attempt, the Raiders stripped the defence of numbers and the Raiders’ winger burst down the sideline, easily stepping past Reece Walsh on his way to the try-line.
— NRL (@NRL) August 27, 2021
An error from Reece Walsh then provided Canberra with the opportunity to put the icing on the victory, with Hudson Young cleaning up the scraps and scoring a try after the siren.
The win moves the Raiders to 22 competition points and provides them with a two-point buffer over the chasing Sharks and Titans.
Ricky Stuart’s troops will face a tough test with their season on the line next week as they face a gallant Sydney Roosters lineup who will be equally desperate to lock up a top-four position.
While all focus will now shift to 2022 for the Warriors, they will play a pivotal role in determining which side receives the final spot in the top eight as they take on the Gold Coast Titans in the penultimate match of the regular season next Sunday.
NRL News Player of the Match:
3 Points – Jordan Rapana – One try, one try assist and two line breaks for the man who started the game at fullback and ended it as a match-winning winger.
2 Points – Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad – Started off the bench but turned the momentum of the game when he entered the field and grabbed one try and one try assist.
1 Point – Sebastian Kris – Two tries and a try contribution were critical in a tightly fought encounter.