Wests Tigers have been run down a fast-finishing Canberra Raiders side to suffer a 30-22 defeat in their Round 7 clash on Sunday afternoon at Leichhardt Oval.
Leading 22-0 after just 25 minutes of the match, the Raiders were able to claw their way back into the contest with two tries before the break, before finishing the stronger to emerge with an eight-point win over the home side in front of a 13,198-strong crowd.
After the Raiders made an error in their opening set, Wests Tigers quickly took the lead through Tim Simona, who picked up a lovely cut-out ball from Brooks to score.
Pat Richards had no problems with the conversion and pushed the lead to 6-0 after three minutes, and it wasn’t long before that lead was doubled, with the unusual sight of Keith Galloway crossing the line after seven minutes giving the hosts a 12-0 lead.
As the home crowd continued to dominate the ball and field position, a wonderful bit of skill from James Tedesco saw Jason Taylor’s side move even further in front, with the fullback breaking free before finding Simona, who in turn found Brooks.
Richards again had no problems converting for a 18-0 lead after 22 minutes.
As the Raiders looked to build some momentum, an intercept from Brooks put the home side back on the attack, and they soon extended their lead through Richards, who finished off a wonderful sweeping back-line move in the corner after 25 minutes.
The winger was unable to convert his own try, though, leaving it at 22-0.
Buoyed by an increase in possession and a few penalties, the Raiders hit back soon after, with Shannon Boyd brushing through a few tackles to score next to the posts. They would reduce the margin even further before the break with Jarrod Croker touching down from a cross-field kick to see the scoreline read 22-12 at the half-time break.
With the wind at their backs, the Raiders began the second half much stronger of the two sides, and quickly made it count on the scoreboard as Kurt Baptiste found a flat running Frank Paul Nuuasuala, who crashed over under the posts after 45 minutes.
A successful conversion from Croker took the scoreline to 22-18, and it could have been much worse moments later when Blake Austin found some open space, but elected to throw a dummy instead of finding the open winger outside of him.
They would eventually draw level in the 64th minute of the match when a back-line move created some space for Jack Wighton, who beat Brooks one-on-one to score.
Croker would miss the conversion and the chance to put his side in front but he would get an opportunity not long after as a penalty against Curtis Sironen gave him a penalty goal from 40m out, which he converted to give the Raiders their first lead of the match.
Despite the best efforts of the crowd, Wests Tigers couldn’t put together any real attacking potency until the final minutes of the match, when they had one last chance to hit back on the scoreboard and steal victory as Robbie Farah attacked the line.
The hooker’s grubber was spilled by Wighton and dived on by Brooks — planting the ball down next to the posts for a try — but the decision was denied upon a quick referral to the video referee, with Keith Galloway ruled to have obstructed the opposition.
That penalty would allow the visitors to break up field and seal the match as Rapana got on the outside of Richards to score his first try of the day in the corner.
Croker added the extras from the sideline sounded to give the Raiders a comeback 30-22 victory — the biggest comeback in the Club’s history — and leave Wests Tigers with just one win from their past five matches. Taylor’s side will face a short turnaround this week, taking on the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Friday night at ANZ Stadium.
Canberra Raiders 30 (Boyd, Croker, Nuuausala, Wighton, Rapana tries; Croker 5/6 goals) def. Wests Tigers 22 (Simona, Galloway, Brooks, Richards tries; Richards 3/4 goals)